Surprising news from the Irish media outlet, independent.ie, today that U.S‑based drone delivery company, Wing, is launching trials next month close to Dublin. Ireland’s drone industry is synonymous with Bobby Healy and Manna Aero, so this news must come as a bit of a shock to the Irish company.
In a statement, Wing told the Independent that the trial would be “in a community near Dublin”. A spokesperson explained, “We’re still working through the preparations and believe consultation with the local community before launching any sort of drone delivery service is important, and that process is now underway.” Adding, “We hope to have more to share soon, once we have more of those conversations and can proceed with input from the community.”
Wing currently operates in the US, Australia and Finland. It has made over 250,000 drone deliveries during the last four years.
A recent feature from evtolinsights.com highlighted the present problems Wing is facing concerning its Australian trials including complaints from residents concerning the “whiny noise” emitted from the drones; craft being attacked by birds; and even a recent incident when one flew into electricity cables causing local disruption.
At present, drone deliveries in Ireland can only be carried out with human observers for each flight, making them prohibitively expensive and restrictive as a mainstream commercial service.
However, new regulations across Europe next year will allow companies to commercially operate drones Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS), opening the door to companies such as Wing to operate without the restriction of human observers. Ireland is ahead of the European curve which makes the country an obvious choice for a delivery drone outsider. The spokesperson continued, “I do want to stress that we envision this as a limited demonstration outside of Dublin, and that it will be a first step for Wing in Ireland.
The spokesperson continued, “We’re encouraged by the progress on drone regulations we’ve seen in the EU, and Ireland has a strong drone eco-system that makes it an attractive location for us. We’ve already begun the process of recruiting talent in the area, and we’re excited to join the thriving drone community there.”
Manna Aero has completed over 100,000 test flights in Ireland beginning in Oranmore, County Galway with a Tesco supermarket collaboration. Last year, Manna moved the trial operation to Balbriggan in County Dublin, a town with a population of around 25,000 people and soon there are plans to expand these tests to an undisclosed larger suburb close to Dublin with a populace of over 100,000.
An obvious question: How will Bobby Healy react to an outsider encroaching on “his Manor”? For if the proposed Wing plan comes to fruition, both companies will be in direct competition, in a similar locale, at the same time.
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(News Source: https://www.independent.ie)
(Top image: Wing)