Swoop Aero to launch drone docking system

Christchurch, NEW ZEALAND – We know it might be a completely useless detail – but the first thing that came to mind when we got this news was that Swoop Aero will soon unveil their own autonomous drone docking system – and they have named it the Aviary.

Yea, we got that right.

The thing is, it seems they have beaten a drone company called Avy to the name – even despite the fact that Avy themselves launched their own autonomous drone response system not long ago.

But then again, are a Dutch company and their name might mean something not at related to anything aviary.

But we digress…

Australian drone company Swoop Aero has joined hands with the Urban Development wing of ChristchurchNZ – the economic development and city profile team in Christchurch, New Zealand to establish a drone delivery network where they will also launch the Aviary, Swoop Aero’s autonomous docking station for a fleet of drones.

The company’s statement explained that the Aviary combines landing infrastructure, charging technology, payload exchange, and a user interface in an architecturally-designed structure to seamlessly scale integrated drone logistics and make access to the skies seamless for all.

“We have proven our capabilities in remote and rural areas,” said Swoop Aero’s CEO Eric Peck. “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.”

The two parties have not mentioned the nature of the packages to be delivered in the city.

As Peck rightly says, it has been relatively easy delivering medical supplies in the rural skies of Africa for Swoop Aero. The need for such deliveries has obviously been great – a combination of non-existent or bad road networks, uneven terrain and unreliable transport means has condemned many rural communities in Africa to rely on prayer and traditional medicines as their go to health facilities, as the localities they live in were otherwise inaccessible by other modern means of transport.

Drone technology proved godsend in bridging that gap.

Across the undulating and hilly plains of Rwanda, the rural skies in Malawi and the dense forests of the DR Congo, drones have been delivering vaccines and other medical supplies that have brought people closer to their healthcare needs than ever before in their lives.

But as an operation in itself, medical drone delivery in rural areas has been almost smooth sailing – there skies are virtually empty, except for birds and an occasional sighting of an aeroplane higher up in the atmosphere, or a helicopter. The drones occupied airspace that was free.

Swoop Aero’s commitment to provide the world’s leading technology platform for sustainable and scalable drone logistics saw the company working with health partners within and outside national government circles to set up shop in countries that include the UK (in partnership with Skyports; Australia; the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique and Malawi; where they are working with a potpourri of medical humanitarian and government partners like the gate Foundation and VillageReach. 

Since 2017, the drone company has completed over 13,000 Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flights, safely delivering over 750,000 items worldwide.

Urban air mobility though, is another thing altogether.

Right now, there are several projects in Europe charged with finding the best ways to integrate drone technology into the urban airspaces, where they have to share the dense airways with other air traffic. In the city of Logan in Canberra, Australia, drone company Wing has enjoyed success delivering food and other small consumables to clients in a section of the city.

The Alphabet company also launched another delivery operation in Dallas, Texas in the US last week.

That is the challenge that Swoop Aero is looking to tackle in Christchurch. By partnering with ChristchurchNZ, the company says it will be leveraging the expertise of the economic development agency’s Urban Development team to design a concept for a city-wide urban air logistics network, the first of its kind in the world making access to the skies seamless for both businesses and individuals across the city.

“This partnership is a natural fit for an urban development team within an economic development agency,” said Christchurch’s GM of Urban Development Cath Carter. “Urban development is traditionally about unlocking the economic potential of places, land and buildings. This partnership expands that ambition to urban skies.”


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