Ireland’s drone delivery company, Manna, headed by the publicity magnet and “serial entrepreneur”, Bobby Healy, began yesterday its much vaunted delivery trials with Tesco in Ireland, reports irishtimes.com.
A number of local businesses in Oranmore, Co. Galway have joined forces with the supermarket chain to take part in the first trial to provide drone deliveries of coffee alongside up to 700 different products to customers living in the area. The Manna drones are operating from a distribution hub on the roof of an Oranmore Tesco’s store.
Customers can order “a shoe-box sized number of products” online which are then packed and placed on to a Manna drone positioned on the store roof and delivered to the individual Eircode provided. The combined total of the goods cannot exceed two kilograms.
The drone flies at a height of around 60 metres and takes around three minutes to reach destinations in the area covered by the trial. The devices hover about 15 metres over a selected delivery point and the goods are lowered for collection. Manna said the drones operate with millimetre accuracy and can fly in moderate wind and rain conditions.
Drone orders will run 9.30am-5pm from Tuesday to Sunday. The orders can be tracked in real-time, with purchases delivered within 30 minutes to one hour of ordering.
Catherine Swift, shop manager at Tesco Oranmore, enthused, “We’re continually looking for new ways to serve our customers, a little better, and this trial is an opportunity to look at meeting demand for small basket shops and quick delivery. We’re looking forward to seeing how our customers in the Oranmore area respond to the service.”
Denis Houston, operations director for Manna, commented, “It is incredible to work with an innovative partner like Tesco on this trial and to be able to provide this delivery service to the community of Oranmore.” Adding, “It’s fantastic to see how innovation and new technologies like this helps all the community, both customers and local retailers.”
The launch of the commercial service follows a detailed trial period in recent weeks, which was overseen by the Irish Aviation Authority. The company has permission to fly in the air corridors in question subject to their being clear of other aircraft.
Initially, the service is available in a 2-3 kilometre radius of the Tesco branch in Oranmore. A total of ten drones are operating at present and the trial is scheduled to continue for six months. Operators say no spillages have been reported and that the service has the potential to alter the way in which people shop for small numbers of items.
Around 8,000 residents are in the catchment area covered by the trial. There is a delivery charge for the service but it is waived for frontline workers and older people getting prescriptions delivered.
It is thought the initiative is best suited to rural and suburban areas. The densely populated nature of towns and city centres means they are being ruled out for such deliveries at present.
On viewing the video, when the sun reflects off the “Labrador-sized” Manna drone, do not be surprised if the Irish Aviation Authority are bombarded by calls and emails from the public claiming a UFO sighting.
(News Source: https://www.irishtimes.com)