Drone delivery commercialization set to begin in Canada

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Canada is in a position to act as a first mover in the emerging space of commercial drone delivery services. Given Canada’s vast landscape and extreme weather conditions, it is often an onerous and costly process for residents in remote locations to obtain everyday essential goods. The Moose Cree First Nation Community is situated on Moose Factory Island, an area without direct access to the shoreline. In the summertime, basic goods are transported across the Moose River by barge. Recent developments in Canada present opportunities to implement the use of drones beyond military and recreational purposes, bringing drone technology to the forefront in the transportation of goods.

Drone Delivery Canada (DDC), a Toronto-based technology company, and the Moose Cree First Nation are partnering to launch the first commercial drone delivery service in Canada, as noted in a press release on October 4, 2017. DDC has worked closely with Transport Canada and community stakeholders to commence commercial test flights within the Moose Cree Community, located 20km south of James Bay in Northern Ontario.

DDC was recently granted permission from Transport Canada to test its drone delivery platform. Test flights were performed from distances of up to 2.12km, while maintaining visual contact. The initial results were positive, with all test flights achieving a 100 percent success rate.

The goal of the pilot program is to improve access to basic goods and supplies for communities located in remote areas. In the coming weeks, DDC will begin delivering food, mail and medical supplies via drones to the Moose Cree Community of nearly 1,700 residents. The Moose Cree leaders are hopeful the drone pilot program will be a first step in resolving the issues involved in transporting goods to remote locations.

“We are very pleased to begin roll out of our drone delivery solution for the Moose Cree First Nation community.” commented Tony Di Benedetto, Chief Executive Officer of DDC. “Drones provide immediate capacity building and provide an alternative to traditional infrastructure where none presently exist.”

The technology behind drone delivery services has far-reaching commercial applications. The DDC pilot project offers a glimpse into one of the potential everyday uses of drones in cities, towns and remote communities. Commercial drone delivery services are still in their infancy stages and will continue to grow as programs such as this help to develop more efficient and safer means for the delivery of goods.

DDC has undertaken a three-year process to ensure the project meets functionality and safety standards. The pilot project will continue for a three-month period allowing operators to determine the number of drones and deliveries required each day. The hope is to begin with two drones, before expanding the fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles at the beginning of 2018.

This article was co-authored by Michael Britton, an articling student in the Toronto office.