Coronavirus has not only left many industries disrupted but also paved the way for advancements in select sectors. Like telehealth and autonomous delivery robots, coronavirus has also given drones an opportunity to kick in. And, the Irish drone startup Manna has made used of this pandemic outbreak despite the disruption in its plans.
Founded in 2018 by Bobby Healy, Manna was all set to kick start its drone delivery service around a Dublin university campus back in March but the pandemic outbreak and the subsequent lockdown disrupted its pilot programme. However, the drone startup reshuffled its operations and started delivering medication and urgent supplies to the senior citizens in rural areas.
Manna adapted to changes!
Initially, Manna was all set to deliver Ben and Jerry’s ice cream to students in Dublin. The startup struck a deal with Unilever and Just Eat to deliver the same to 30,000 students of Dublin University from March 18. As it neared the fixed date, the pandemic outbreak made changes to the company’s plans. The founder and CEO, Bobby Healy realised that people isolated in rural areas will be in need of medicines and groceries among other essential supplies. And, decided to use Manna’s drones to deliver these supplies.
What’s interesting to know about this Irish drone delivery startup is that they didn’t wait for things to calm down and the Irish government to ease restrictions. Instead, they used the food delivery drones to delivery medication and other essential supplies. During the coronavirus outbreak, the drone delivery startup ensures to follow safety measures and social distancing norms. Drones execute deliveries with zero human contact that isn’t the case with normal ways of delivery.
First pilot programme!
Manna chose Moneygall for its first trial that has been running for six weeks. One of its drones has been deployed to handle between 20 and 50 deliveries a day. The drone can carry between 4.5 pounds and 9 pounds of supplies. After witnessing success, Manna proceeded with the delivery of products besides essentials such as medicines, butter, and bread. The startup had delivered Fanta, a birthday cake, and puncture repair kits as well in the village. They even delivered a pizza to a parish priest (85).
Back in late 2019, Manna secured nearly €2.7 million funding from Dynamo VC, a logistics-focused fund. The drone delivery startup channelled the funding for its commercial growth that will deploy a fleet of drones to deliver food directly from restaurants to consumers.
Plans to expand further
Following the successful pilot programme in the village, Manna is in plans to expand its drone delivery service to a relatively larger town. However, they are yet to finalise the town. The company doesn’t want to break into large cities with dense populations as there are roadblocks such as limited outdoor space that challenge drone deliveries. Tapping into rural communities, Manna Aera intends to become popular without facing competition from food delivery giants such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats.
Main image picture credits: Manna
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