Opening The Skies For Cargo Drones Why

News Technology

Drone deliveries are something many logistics companies are looking into. However, multiple factors were holding developments back during the last few years. Recently, a new European regulatory framework has allowed more experimentation and freedom. Svilen Rangelov, Co-founder and CEO of Dranamics, a startup drone delivery company, speaks to The Logistics Point about the future of drone logistics. Svilen will speak at “Deliver Green: Creating Sustainable Supply Chains” Conference, organised by The Logistics point on the 11th May at 10am GMT.

The first meeting Svilen and I had was more than four years ago when Dronamics’ drone was still being at its early design stage. Four years later the company has moved forward with its idea and is just months from launching a Europe wide network of droneports and deliveries. Supported by large organisations, including DHL and IATA, Dronamics hopes to firstly create a network at cargo ports and become a partner of large logistics providers.

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The Black Swan

The drone is not what most expect it to be. Looking more like a small plane it uses a traditional airplane engine that can run on 100% biofuels and is called ‘The Black Swan’. It can transport 350 KG over 2,500 KM for a cost that’s 50%+ lower than other airplanes. It flies autonomously, can be monitored and managed remotely via satellite, and the whole system costs less than a sports car. Dronamics has signed up deals with a few large airports like the one in Liege, Belgium. 

The idea is to piggyback on existing infrastructure and minimise cost. However, the machine is capable of landing on most flat surfaces and in the future can be used to transport goods between a manufacturing facility and a large logistics hub, given they both have 400 metre runway. At both ends Dronamics will be operated by two ground pilots and have a team of engineers. ‘All of this means our drone is way more acceptable for regulators,’ Svilen explains. ‘It is much harder for drones that take off vertically and are powered by batteries.’ That is not to say The Black Swan won’t use batteries in the future. Svilen recognises the advantages but as of now there isn’t a viable technological solution. 

Cargo airline

The new European regulations are giving companies like Dronamics the ability to compete with other cargo services. Based on an international framework, it is expected that these rules will also be applied in the rest of the world shortly. ’We have decided to create a network just like an airline,’ Svilen adds. To do that the company has hired Sérgio Oliveira e Silva as their Chief Operating Officer.

The drone company wants to take care of most of the process of loading and unloading which is why they would operate droneports. ‘We do not aim at building runways,’ Svilen explains. ‘We have added over 40 airports in Europe and nearly 20 elsewhere.’ The model reminds of the air cargo but the difference is that the crew stays on ground all the time. In addition, there will be the need for a Network Operations Centre that could monitor all flights and redirect them if needed. 

The Dronamics solutions focus on covering long distances between hubs at high speeds. This enables fulfilling e-commerce orders in four hours to any address in the UK from a single warehouse. The other industries of interest are pharma, perishable, manufacturing of spare parts, high-value parts, and mining sites supplies. The drone itself will be produced by a third party.

The first commercial flights of the DRONAMICS same-day drone cargo services are expected to begin in 2022 and the first phase of the European Droneport Network includes regional leaders in air cargo such as Liège Airport, which serves as Alibaba’s European Hub, Brescia Airport, the national hub for the Italian postal system, as well as developing airports at strategic locations throughout the continent that are on a path to becoming regional air cargo logistics hubs through ambitious investment programs, like Skövde (Sweden), Seinäjoki (Finland) and Osijek (Croatia).

You can learn more about Dronamics and how it plans to tackle the sustainability issue on 11th May at ‘Delivering Green: Creating Sustainable Supply Chains’ Conference. Register Now!

Droneports

We are happy to announce that Dronamics is launching a pan-European Droneport Network that includes more than 35 airports in 11 European countries, connecting 300 million people, as the first step of our plan to offer same-day connectivity of goods for every person everywhere. The droneports will be serviced by same-day flights using the DRONAMICS Black Swan large cargo drones, each with a capacity of 350kg and range of 2,500 km, reducing time, cost and emissions by 50-80% compared to traditional air cargo.

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