Forget jumping into your car or hopping onto an airplane to get what you need or where you want to go. In the near future, drone delivery companies might replace those transportation tasks by ferrying you as a passenger and/or bringing you everything from fast food to medical supplies.
Drones, which can rise up and lower like helicopters yet fly like an airplane, come in various sizes depending on their cargo. Some are roughly the size of an oversize dinner plate and carry cargo weighing less than five pounds, while others, for instance electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOLs) vehicles, can deliver people in a vehicle the size of a small four-person passenger plane.
The attraction of drone delivery companies include their ability to get food, goods, medicine and people to places that lack space for runways or that are too remote to make driving worthwhile. Besides, they’re cool to watch, too.
Drone Delivery Companies
- Elroy Air
- Joby Aviation
- Wisk Aero
The commercial drone market is expected to soar from $8.15 billion this year to nearly $47.4 billion by 2029, according to a Fortune Business Insights report.
The fallout from COVID-19 is among the catalysts increasing demand for commercial drones to deliver vaccines to remote areas, the study notes. The pandemic has also led to an increase in remote workers and their continued habit of making delivery requests ranging from takeout food to goods.
Drone Delivery Companies By Use
Passenger Transport Drone Companies
Joby Aviation, an eVOTL air-taxi company, received its air carrier certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration in 2022, according to TransportUP. Its vehicles, which can hold a pilot and four passengers and sports a range of up to 150 miles, will start commercial flights once its aircraft becomes fully certified.
In late 2022, Volkswagen Group China plans to conduct several flight tests to improve its Flying Tiger prototype and optimize its concept, with advanced test flights expected to be held in summer 2023, reports Green Car Congress. The eVTOL is expected to transport up to four passengers, and no word yet on whether Volkswagen would ever consider making it a flying Beetle.
Wisk Aero released its sixth-generation of its eVTOL, which it hopes to gain certification from the FAA and eventually have it serve 20 of the busiest metropolitan cities across the globe over the next 10 years, reports Vertical Mag. The cargo capacity will be four people.
Medical Drone Delivery Companies
Zipline is zipping along, deliverings vaccines, blood, prescriptions and medical supplies to medical facilities and patients’ homes in the United States, Japan, Rwanda, Ghana and Nigeria. It can hold nearly seven pounds of cargo capacity and fly a range of 100 miles. In the fall of 2022, Zipline announced plans to expand into e-commerce deliveries in Africa, where it has been conducting a pilot in Ghana for the past several months. It has been making e-commerce deliveries to consumers’ homes in Arkansas over the past year. Sorry Santa, you and Rudolph may soon be replaced.
UPS Flight Forward delivers prescriptions, COVID-19 vaccines and blood to medical facilities and patients’ homes in Florida, North Carolina, Ghana and Rwanda. In 2020, UPS’ Flight Forward drone partnered with pharmacy giant CVS to deliver prescriptions to a Florida retirement home.
Matternet delivers medical goods, COVID-19 vaccines, blood and lab samples in Abu Dhabi, Switzerland, Asia, European Union and North Carolina. Its drones can handle 4.5 pounds of cargo and have a range of 14 miles. Matternet announced in 2021 that it is working with the Abu Dhabi Department of Health to create a city-wide drone delivery network. A possible side benefit: Reducing traffic and noise in the city.
Food Drone Delivery Companies
Anybody hungry? Wing’s drones take ice cream, coffee, pastries, take-out food and groceries to customers in Texas, Virginia, Australia and Finland. Each drone can carry 2.5 pounds and has a six-mile range. Wing became the first drone operator to launch a commercial delivery service in a major U.S. metropolitan area when it kicked off deliveries in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in April of 2022. In addition to delivering food from restaurants to grocery stores, it also delivers items from pharmacies and healthcare facilities.
Hamburgers, pastries, sushi, pizza and other fast food and groceries make their way to customers in North Carolina, Texas and Iceland on Flytrex drones. They have a cargo capacity of 6.6 pounds and a five-mile range. In the fall of 2022, the Federal Aviation Administration approved increasing Flytrex’s delivery radius to two nautical miles from one according to a FreightWaves post. This increases the number of people who are eligible for Flytrex service to 100,000 customers from 40,000.
Zing Drone Delivery delivers food to clients in Florida, with each drone boasting a 10-pound cargo capacity. In January of 2022, the company announced a partnership with Skyway Technologies to provide autonomous deliveries to businesses and homes in the United States, according to the press release announcing the partnership.
Package Drone Delivery Companies
Amazon Prime Air drones deliver eligible merchandise purchased on Amazon to customers in Lockeford, California, and as of late 2022, College Station, Texas. The cargo capacity maxes out at five pounds. Amazon, however, has scaled back its drone delivery efforts in the UK, reports DroneDJ. Some Amazon Prime purchases are ineligible for drone delivery — so that refrigerator will have to wait.
Wingcopter drops off packages, tools and spare parts to customers in Malawi, Ireland, Italy, Canada, Vanuatu, Scotland, Germany and Norway. Other items Wingcopter delivers include food, groceries, medical supplies and vaccines.
Elroy Air’s Chaparral drone, which it bills itself as a first-of-its-kind, autonomous, hybrid electric VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) (eVTOL) aircraft, will deliver consumer goods, medical supplies, machine parts and disaster relief items to West Africa. The Elroy Air Chaparral has a cargo capacity of 300 to 500 pounds and a range of 300 miles.
In the summer of 2022, Elroy Air and British aviation company Bristow Group announced a deal in which Bristow Group would order 100 Chaparral eVTOLs from Elroy with a target launch for West Africa. FedEx also revealed that it would begin testing Elroy’s Chaparral early in 2023 to see how it works with its FedEx facilities, network, staff and routes, Forbes reported.