Drone deliveries take off in Iceland

JERUSALEM • An Israeli autonomous drone delivery company has started commercial operations in Reykjavik, Iceland, one of the first in the world to offer the service on demand.

Tel Aviv-based Flytrex's drones will fly more than 2.5km across a large bay that separates two parts of the city, delivering for online marketplace Aha, company chief executive officer Yariv Bash said.

The drones will drop off the goods at a designated landing pad, where they will then be taken to their final destination by foot, scooter or car. The firms hope to receive regulatory approval by the end of the year to transport orders straight to customers' backyards.

"Drone-based disruption is taking off, with Iceland as its runway," Mr Bash said separately in a statement. Using drones will save Aha 60 per cent of delivery costs to that area of Reykjavik, where it serves 8,000 customers, he said. Currently, the drones make up to 10 deliveries a day, and will double the number by the end of next week.

Some heavy-hitters are working on developing drone delivery, including Amazon.com and Google parent Alphabet. Airbus SE, the European aerospace conglomerate, is starting a company to provide unmanned aerial services as well, estimating in May that the field could increase to more than US$120 billion (S$163.4 billion) annually as the use of such fleets expands.

Amazon in December made its first drone delivery - a television streaming device and a bag of popcorn - to a customer in Britain, where the company is testing the technology. 

7-Eleven and Domino's have used Flirtey drones to deliver packages, and Zipline flies unmanned aircraft to parachute medical supplies to remote African villages.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 25, 2017, with the headline 'Drone deliveries take off in Iceland'. Print Edition | Subscribe