Australian logistics and drone delivery company Swoop Aero is shifting gears from its service to remote locations or above largely rural zones, and moving to establish an urban UAV network in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.
Swoop Aero has been active in recent years expanding its healthcare logistics activity across Africa, scoring high-profile successes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia, Malawi, and other nations across the continent. During spikes in COVID-19 pandemic, meanwhile, it also teamed up with UK firm Skyports to make drone deliveries of medical supplies and vaccines to far-flung locales in the UK. It more recently started a similar distribution operation to underserved communities in the Australian state of Queensland.
Now the company is trying its hand at developing a network designed for the denser population and air traffic environment of New Zealand’s second-largest city, Christchurch.
Though it’s still fairly light on other details and timing, Swoop Aero says it is undertaking the project with municipal organization ChrischurchNZ, and will work with its urban development team. The objective of that, the company notes, is to construct a concept for a city-wide urban air logistics network that will be available to both businesses and individuals in the area.
Once achieved, according to Swoop Aero, that system will be the first full-service drone logistics and services platform of its kind.
Whether unprecedented or not, the goal of establishing and operating a large drone grid functioning in and over a bustling city promises to be a formidable challenge – and one that will require Swoop Aero to adapt the experience and success it has earned in its previous activity.
Since its inception in 2017, the company has conducted over 13,000 beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flights, safely delivering over 750,000 items worldwide. Those have primarily involved service to remote locations in relatively sparsely populated areas of African nations, where air traffic tends to be less dense than above urban settings.
But company CEO Eric Peck is confident Swoop Aero can adapt its operations and tech to the more crowded spaces of Christchurch. And to do that, he’ll be relying on Swoop Aero’s Aviary docking system, which combines landing infrastructure, charging technology, payload exchange, and a user interface within a platform designed to seamlessly scale integrated drone logistics.
“We have proven our capabilities in remote and rural areas,” Peck says. “This partnership will develop and implement the concept of an urban drone logistics network in a modern, future-facing city, bringing us closer to our goal to providing a service accessible by 100 million people in 2025.”