Manna Starts Drone Delivery Flights in Balbriggan, Ireland

Tá daonra 35,000 sa chathair.

Manna has started its first drone delivery flights to the Irish city of Balbriggan, according to a Linkedin post with accompany video over the weekend from company CEO Bobby Healy. Balbriggan has a population of 35,000, is fifteen minutes from the Dublin airport, and would be the second city in Ireland to get Manna’s delivery service.

Manna’s drones fly between 50 and 80 meters (164 to 262 ft) above the ground at a speed of 80 km/hr (50 mph). When the drone reaches its destination — typically within three minutes — it hovers over designated area and drops a tether with the goods down to the recipient.

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Healy’s post didn’t say if these were test flights or part of a full-on regular program, and the company’s website still lists Balbriggan service as “coming soon.” We reached out to the company and will update when we hear back.

Manna has been conducting drone deliveries in the Galway, Ireland since the tail end of last year. As of March this year, Manna was doing 50 - 100 drone deliveries per day, carrying grocery items from Tesco and restaurant meals from Camille Thai and for the Just Eat Takeaway delivery service.

Adding service to the town of Balbriggan brings drone delivery closer to Manna’s headquarters in Dublin, Ireland. The new city also means that Manna is operating on both coasts of the Emerald Isle.

In his Linkedin post, Healy noted that Balbriggan is fifteen minutes away from the Dublin airport. This is worth pointing out given that one complication standing in the way of mainstream drone delivery adoption is dealing with regulatory bodies around flight paths and air traffic. When I spoke with Healy at the ArticulATE conference in May of this year, he said he was working with aviation authorities to allow delivery flights to happen beyond line-of-site restrictions.

Having said all that, we’ve seen plenty of drone delivery programs taking off (pardon the pun) here in the U.S. over the past year. Israeli drone delivery company Flytrex is working with Walmart and a number Brinker International brand restaurants in North Carolina. And over in Centerville, Ohio, Kroger started piloting (pardon the second pun) drone grocery delivery in May of this year.

In addition to adding a second city, we’ve also seen Manna pushing drone delivery technology forward in other ways. Last month Healy posted a different video showing a robotic arm autonomously swapping out battery packs on drones. Turning battery swapping over to robots could keep drones in the sky longer, allowing them to make more deliveries and generate, appropriate enough for an Irish company, more green.