Drone delivery has arrived in Iceland.
Tel Aviv-based brone delivery company Flytrex has partnered with e-commerce site AHA to deliver its products to customers in Iceland, via drone of course. AHA sells everything from consumer products to groceries and even hot food.
Flytrex’s drones are currently flying one route — from the AHA headquarters, across a large bay to a point just outside the Grafarvogur suburb, which is a suburb of Reykjavik, Iceland. An AHA courier handles the packages between that drop-off point and the customer’s house, filling in the “last mile.”
The drone flight isn’t actually that far as the crow flies — just a four minute flight and two mile distance — but a Flytrex spokesperson says it would take a lot longer to get deliveries without a drone.
During peak traffic hours, crossing the water could mean a 25-minute drive.
Currently, drone delivery is available to anyone who places an order with AHA in the Grafarvogur suburb of Iceland, and getting a delivery via drone won’t cost any more than getting it shipped by traditional means.
Here’s a video showing how it works:
The deliveries are being regulated by the Icelandic Transport Authority (Icetra).
Flytrex is currently in trial mode, but a spokesperson said the company eventually hopes to deliver to multiple routes and even directly to consumers’ backyards. Even in trial mode, a spokesperson said Flytrex is doing 20 deliveries a day, or about 440 per month.
The company has plans to expand and improve service, including eventually allowing users to track deliveries via a mobile app and receive them in their backyards.
A handful of companies have experimented with drone delivery to varying degrees of success.
On the whole, consumer drone deliveries haven’t progressed much beyond “TacoCopter” – a startup that successfully documented the first drone deliveries — tacos, of course — back in 2011.
Many companies have fallen into the trap of promoting drone deliveries that haven’t been much beyond one-off stunt flights. Most famously, Flirtey has taken credit for the first-ship-to-shore drone delivery, the first FAA-approved drone delivery to a customer’s home and the first urban drone delivery, though the company has never done any large-scale deliveries.
Amazon also went to great lengths to tout its first delivery to a home near Cambridge in the U.K., but its drone delivery service currently only services two customers. And X (formerly known as Google)’s Project Wing delivered Chipotle burritos to college students in Virginia, but those drones didn’t fly much farther than down a hill.
But if those issues can be sorted out and drone delivery companies can scale, they would be economically viable, according to Skylark Research. A $2,000 drone flying 50 hourly flights each week would cost $1.74 per trip, while a traditional last mile trip via car or foot costs $2.50, the company said.
“The economic annual savings to logistics companies will be at least $2 billion, for our pessimistic forecast,” according to the report’s authors Darryl Jenkins, Bijan Vasigh, Clint Oster, and Tulinda Larsen. “For our midrange forecast (of 50 million daily operations), savings are projected at $10 billion.”
Flytrex, which was founded in 2013, has raised $3 million in Series A funding, according to Crunchbase.