Drone shipments represent a large market, which could reach about $ 29.06 billion by 2027, according to analysts at Research and Markets. Not surprisingly, hard hitters like Google X Labs, Wing and Amazon, are investing heavily in technology, including piloting drone delivery in Australia, the UK and soon to Helsinki. And they are not alone.
Six-year-old Israeli start-up Flytrex, which in 2018 has deployed what it says is the first "golf course delivery system" in the United States, announced today that it had obtained $ 7.5 million in Series B financing, led by Benhamou Global Ventures, with additional funds. investment of Btov. This follows a $ 3 million Series A fundraising in June 2017, bringing the company's total to $ 10.5 million.
This new capital comes after the launch of Flytrex's air mail distribution program in Ukraine and its partnership with the online marketplace Aha in August 2017 to deploy a service on demand in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik. More recently, in September 2018, Flytrex launched the aforementioned golf course delivery program in North Dakota at King's Walk.
Flytrex CEO and co-founder Yariv Bash said the capital will be used to scale up operations and improve the company's existing UAV delivery services. It will also provide start-up funding for the Flytrex program in North Carolina, which will be launched later this year.
"The delivery of drones is starting and we are delighted that BGV and Btov are joining us to make drone deliveries a global reality," said Bash.
According to Bash, what sets Flytrex apart from the competition is its delivery mechanism. Nicknamed InAir, the patented wire drop system uses an attached cord that gently lowers grounded parcels after the delivery recipients have confirmed their proximity to the Flytrex application.
For example, at King's Walk, customers select menu items in Eagle's Crest Bar & Grill in the Flytrex app. They then choose from a list of safe drop points and place their order, after which the club prepares the order, packages it and assigns it to a Flytrex technician. Then the drone – with the towing order – flew to the designated withdrawal area, staying in the air until the intended recipient confirms that it is found nearby.
"This investment is a vote of confidence in the continued success of Flytrex propelling the drone industry and our vision of making UAV delivery the rule rather than the exception," added Bash.
To remain in compliance with US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Rule 107, which prohibits the use of commercial UAVs within 500 feet of "non-participating" individuals and structures, Flytrex UAVs remain visible and fly over the roads without anyone. They also provide real-time status updates via the app.
Efforts are underway to relax these restrictions. In May 2010, the US Department of Transportation appointed a handful of states – including North Dakota and Tennessee – to join the government's UAS pilot program, which aims to establish traffic management systems that can manage commercial UAV traffic.
The Flytrex expansion in Holly Springs, NC is based on a pilot project conducted last year with the state's transportation department to test restaurant deliveries to businesses. As with the deployment of Flytrex in North Dakota, drones, once launched widely in the city, will operate in the field of view. However, Flytrex hopes to exploit them also at night and on people.
Holly Springs City Council reviewed and approved the company's proposal last year.
Competitors are on the heels of Flytrex. In May, Uber announced its intention to deliver food by drone to San Diego, and local authorities have authorized Al Alba Alibaba to use drones to deliver meals along 17 routes in the industrial park. Jinshan in Shanghai. At the same time, Microsoft will conduct confidential testing in Kansas and FedEx will develop a UAV-powered aircraft inspection program in Tennessee.