A Canadian company is one step closer to launching the country’s first fleet of cargo delivery drones, as Transport Canada has given Drone Delivery Canada (CSE:FLT) partial approval to operate its Sparrow cargo drones in Canadian airspace.
The move displays Canada’s innovation leadership on commercial drone delivery, says DDC, which is already working in partnership with Indigenous groups in Northern Ontario to deliver mail, medicine and food to remote communities.
Last week, Drone Delivery Canada announced its ten-pound capacity X1000 Sparrow delivery drones had met Transport Canada’s unmanned aircraft system (UAS) standard, the first of three regulatory measures involved in Transport Canada’s UAS Operator program.
“Achieving Compliant UAV Status is the first of three very critical steps in DDC achieving its Compliant Operator Status Certificate. We anticipate obtaining the balance of the approvals in early Q1 2018,” said Tony Di Benedetto, CEO of DDC, in a press release. “We are very thankful to the efforts of the Canadian Government and Transport Canada in creating a favourable environment to grow innovative technology and position Canada as a leader in commercial drone delivery technology on a global scale.”
Ever since recreational and commercial drone technology took off about a half-decade ago, the promise of door-to- door package delivery by drones has been a topic of public fascination. Online retail behemoth Amazon first announced its plans for a drone service back in 2013 but has so far failed to launch the program, reportedly held back by US airspace regulations.
But along the shores of James Bay in Northern Ontario, DDC has already been flying test missions in cooperation with the Moose Cree First Nation, with the aim of setting up a drone service to deliver goods to the island community close to Moosonee, Ontario, for which other transport options are often unreliable and expensive.
Tony Di Benedetto, CEO of DDC, says drone transport can help with getting key supplies to remote and underserved communities in Canada’s North. “What we saw looking in this area was big, wide-open spaces with immediate lack of infrastructure,” he said to the Toronto Star. “We saw that there was an immediate requirement where basic sustenance is a challenge for these communities.”
Di Benedetto says that if all goes well with the Moose Cree testing —and if the other legs of Transport Canada’s regulatory scheme are passed— DDC will aim on expanding its operations to more communities farther north, with Moose Cree as a delivery hub.
The cargo industry is ripe for technological disruption, say experts, who point to drone delivery as a key part of that process. On Canada’s east and west coasts, for example, a Chinese company is making moves to set up a drone delivery program for shipping Atlantic seafood and BC blueberries. JD.com, one of China’s largest online retailers, is in talks with the federal government to test its drone fleet which would ferry goods from processing plants and farms to airports for quick loading onto cargo planes. As reported by the Globe and Mail, the company says that adding the drone fleet could cut overall logistics costs by 50 to 70 per cent.
At press time, shares of Drone Delivery Canada were up 12.5 per cent to $.90 as more than three-million shares changed hands.
Disclosure: DDC is a sponsor of Cantech Letter.