Flyby, a California-based drone delivery startup, has announced that it has raised an undisclosed amount in a seed funding round to develop autonomous drone delivery technology. The company plans to use the funds to enhance its drone technology and reach a level of development where its drones can fly through the entire delivery cycle without any human intervention, except in emergency situations. According to Flyby, its drones can currently deliver within a mile radius within 4 minutes, with a fee of $3.
While Flyby currently operates under FAA Part 107 regulations, which allows commercial operators to employ small drones within strict limits, the company is working on gaining regulatory permission for wider delivery boundaries. The firm’s competitors, including Zipline and Flytrex, have been building out delivery partnerships with chains and also pursuing regulatory permission for wider delivery areas.
With the overall adoption of autonomous delivery still relatively low, land-based robot delivery seems to be a few years ahead of airborne delivery, with partnerships between delivery companies and robotics firms encompassing thousands of robots. However, drone companies claim that their mode of delivery is more sustainable than car or bike services, despite much of the US grid relying on fossil fuels for electricity generation, meaning battery-powered drones face the same long-tailpipe sustainability issue as electric cars.
According to a press release from the company, Flyby plans to launch drone delivery in Las Vegas eventually. However, it is unclear when the company will expand its delivery services beyond its current one-mile radius test radius.
Despite the challenges, Flyby’s investors are optimistic about the potential for autonomous drone delivery technology. “The need for last-mile delivery services has never been greater, and we believe Flyby’s technology and approach will revolutionize this space,” said LocalGlobe Partner Suzanne Ashman. Other investors in Flyby’s seed round include Fusion Fund, Social Starts, Urban Innovation Fund, and Sidekick Fund.