When you hear “delivery drone,” you probably think of a quadcopter lugging six or eight pounds across a handful of miles. But Drone Delivery Canada is testing a much bigger bird. It can haul 400 pounds of cargo up to 124 miles.
This capability comes courtesy of the Condor — essentially a pilotless mini helicopter with a cargo compartment in place of a cockpit. That compartment provides about 20 cubic feet of storage space. The entire craft measures 22 feet long, 5 feet wide, and 7 feet tall. It has a maximum speed of about 75 miles per hour.
Drone Delivery Canada is currently testing the heavy-lift capabilities of the Condor at a test range near Alberta Canada. Tests include its ability to safely fly beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). This is essential for a craft that travels so far. The company claims to target a wide range of applications for its technology, including postal delivery, first responders, medical supply distribution, and e-commerce.
Growing demand for delivery drones
Like many other aspects of the drone economy, Drone Delivery Canada says it’s seen increased interest and a sense of urgency due to COVID-19. Drones offer a contact-free, social distancing method of moving goods, including medical supplies.
“Market response to the Condor has been overwhelmingly positive,” said president and CEO Michael Zahra in a press release. “With the COVID-19 situation, interested customers have asked us to fast-track the commercialization process, which we are now doing.”
COVID-19 has helped to accelerate the deployment of drone delivery systems around the world. In the US, California-based Zipline is looking to move up its launch of medical delivery services to fight the pandemic. (The company has already made thousands of medical deliveries in Africa in the past years.) In Ireland, would-be food-delivery drone company Mana Aero has pivoted to a medical delivery pilot project.
“Drone delivery is also an ideal solution for limiting person-to-person contact in the current pandemic situation,” said Zahra. “These requests are happening globally.”