If you’re not familiar with or haven’t paid that much attention to the drone delivery industry before, you might be surprised to hear that at the top of the drone delivery companies list in the previous year have been neither Google nor Amazon.
Although the two corporate giants have left a significant footprint in this industry in 2020 and deserve mention, in this article, we’ll mostly focus on other companies that have thrived even in the height of the ongoing crisis. So, let’s jump right in with the first drone delivery company on our list without any delay.
1. UPS Flight Forward
UPS Flight Forward was the first drone delivery company to receive the full Part 135 certification from the Federal Aviation Administration and hasn’t looked back since. This certification allows them to operate a “drone airline”, meaning that there are still many potential venues for how UPS can expand its drone service in the future.
Probably even more important than the Part 135 certification is the fact that UPS has managed to obtain the Part 107 waiver. The latter opens a lot of doors for UPS in the future, as it allows it to fly at night, operate over populated areas, fly outside the line of sight, and even deliver cargo over 55 pounds (22.50 kilograms).
Despite expanding so quickly and taking up a significant part of the drone delivery market, the UPS Flight Forward drone delivery company is still pushing its products to new limits. According to the most recent information on its site, UPS Flight Forward will expand its service to new environments. This includes both residential and commercial drone deliveries. It’ll be interesting to see just how fast and efficiently UPS manages to scale its Flight Forward drone delivery service going into 2021 and beyond.
Zipline has been a leader in medical-related drone deliveries for close to a decade. They started out delivering valuable medical supplies to developing countries such as Rwanda, Tanzania, the Philippines, and India. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic influenced them to shift their business more inwards and focus on the US.
The company has a sophisticated in-house operational concept. All of their drones are designed and built by in-house experts. Moreover, Zipline creates and operates its own distribution centers. Each of their distribution centers is designed to career up to 500 deliveries a day.
Zipline is strongly backed up by many notable investors and has raised over $225 million over the years. Some of the most prominent backers include Paul Allen, Goldman Sachs, Stanford University, and even Google Ventures.
When it comes to pushing the limits of innovation, the Wing drone delivery service is undoubtedly at the forefront of the landscape. Owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet, Wing is backed up by a massive budget that allows it to innovate and add new features to its service regularly.
Wing currently operates in the US, Australia, and Finland. Although it offers its services in a fairly limited number of locations compared to most companies on our list, it is regarded as one of the most efficient drone delivery companies in the current market. This is because their drones can fly up to 65 mph and deliver your order within minutes.
The FAA approves the company as a certified air carrier. They have also partnered up with Walgreens and FedEx to deliver consumer goods to US households. Wing is also currently the only US that does so, as Prime Air still hasn’t launched its drone delivery services to the general public.
4. Amazon Prime Air
Amazon Prime Air was founded back in 2016. However, their drone delivery service is yet to materialize. In August 2020, the service was one of 10 drone delivery companies the FAA chose to participate in a type certification program for delivery drones. As the company hasn’t launched its services yet, there’s not much information about Prime Air publicly available.
But, from the information that is available on Amazon’s upcoming drone delivery service, we can see that they aim to deliver packages within 30 of placing the delivery. To be eligible for the delivery, customers must live within a 10-mile (16 kilometers) radius of an Amazon order fulfillment center and place an order that doesn’t exceed 5 pounds (2.25 kg). While Amazon’s drone delivery business model sounds very promising, we’ll still have to wait a bit until it becomes a reality.
Based in Israel, Flytrex is a drone delivery company worth paying great attention to in the future. What makes this drone delivery company so exciting and unique is that it created the first cloud-connected drone service. Not only this, but Flytrex has also developed a functional platform that enables drone deliveries aimed at large retailers that want to make drone deliveries.
Flytrex is currently operating only in two areas – North Dakota and Reykjavik, Iceland. Aside from offering innovative drone delivery services to companies, their drone service is designed primarily with suburbs in mind. Safe, fast, and highly-reliable, Flytrex paves the way in backyard drone deliveries.
Another unusual achievement – their drone delivery service is known as one of the quietest in the industry. This is thanks to their patented wire release mechanism, which lowers orders from eighty feet, significantly reducing the drone’s sound impact on the environment below.
As one of the largest supermarket chains in the world, Walmart closely follows all of the latest trends that could help better its business. As of now, the company is experimenting with drone delivery services by cooperating with the previously-listed company on this list – Flytrex.
Aside from this partnership, Walmart is working on its own patents of creating a delivery process and has filed for an impressive 97 different drone patents with the World Intellectual Property Organisation since July of 2018 alone. Most of their patents pertain to obtaining and sorting packages from the drone delivery zone to the desired delivery building.
That said, as of yet, Walmart hasn’t made any official announcements of its in-house drones. This is most likely because they can avoid direct certification by contracting its delivery needs to Flytrex, which has already obtained all of the necessary certifications.
Matternet is one of the most prestigious drone delivery companies in the industry. Known for developing the first smart drone made exclusively for transportation, Matternet maintains a world-class reputation in the drone delivery industry. The company primarily deals in providing drone delivery services in three branches:
- Healthcare – Matternet excels in providing reliable and secure transportation of items and samples between healthcare facilities. Their service has seen great use in practice so far, being utilized in Switzerland and the USA.
- E-commerce – Matternet’s on-demand delivery service proved useful to shuttle Mercedes Benz parcel hubs from a distribution zone directly to the delivery van in an experiment the two companies conducted to promote the concept of combined drone-van delivery.
- Humanitarian – Regardless of road conditions or the environment, Matternet provides reliable transportation of humanitarian diagnostics, medicine, and supplies to the areas that need it the most. Their services were effectively utilized in Malawi to help fight HIV diagnosed in early infants.
Matternet is one of the most ambitious drone delivery companies you can find today. They are continually upgrading and expanding their service. They are partnered with Japan Airlines and UPS to provide drone delivery services in Tokyo and the US.
Flirtey was the first US-approved drone delivery company and had a prominent role in trailblazing the drone delivery industry in the country, as well as on an international level. What makes Flirtey so different from other major drone delivery companies on our list is that they are an entirely independent drone delivery service.
This means that unlike conglomerates such as Google and Amazon, Flirtey is looking to partner and cooperate with absolutely any reliable company that wants to introduce drone delivery services to its customers. Flirtey launched as a startup back in 2013 and has since made great strides, and has even become the first drone delivery company to provide a ship to shore delivery when they collaborated with the John Hopkins School of Medicine.
Another well-known veteran in the transportation industry, DHL, recently launched its drone delivery service. The company has been delivering goods and products in China since June 2019, using the Chinese UAV Ehang’s Falcon drones. It showed excellent success in bypassing the overcrowded Chinese roads and delivering packages safely and efficiently.
Ehang’s Falcon drones are fully automated and don’t require any human oversight. Special cabinets are used for drone take-off and landing, and the cargo is automatically loaded and unloaded. This sophisticated process covers scanning, sorting, and storing mail. When it comes to the delivery part itself, every Falcon includes precise GPS with smart path planning features.
Even more important than this, each Falcon UAV can carry up to 5kg of cargo, significantly more than most drone delivery companies are currently supporting their services. With such a streamlined service, DHL can reduce its delivery costs by a whopping 80 percent.