While the development of all kinds of next-generation aviation and UAV activity merits the attention it attracts, the reality is a lot of what’s afoot is still in early-phase operation or testing. That work-in-progress status makes seeing quantified metrics in advanced applications like those released today by drone delivery specialist Flytrex particularly useful in measuring rates of progress.
Earlier this month, Flytrex CEO Yariv Bash shared his analysis of the drone delivery business with DroneDJ and explained why he expects those services to truly bust out in 2022. Now the company is revealing its 2021 Yardstick measuring UAV operations in the three North Carolina communities it serves. Those will permit comparison with future performance as the company’s system evolves, and with wider aerial delivery activity as it takes wing.
The marquee stats Flytrex published include over 12,000 orders its automated drones delivered to backyards in its North Carolina zone of operation in 2021 – more than any other company in the US, it says. That activity was the densest on New Year’s Eve, when orders flowed in at the rate of one per 6.5 minutes, requiring the company to have three UAVs flying at once.
Throughout the year, the average time elapsed between reception of a call to drones making the delivery was just three minutes – well below Flytrex’s promised five-minute maximum. The fastest completed was just 1:42.
Bash says the 2021 stats dwarfed those from the previous year, and are harbingers of the kind of enormous growth he says Flytrex is likely to experience during 2022.
“Drone delivery has skyrocketed over the past year,” said Bash. “The exponential growth of orders from the Flytrex service has demonstrated that consumers are flying high over our ultrafast delivery. Our goal has always been to provide the fastest, safest, and most affordable service to customers, and we’re thrilled to see just how delighted they are. We can’t wait to bring this same level of airborne convenience, speed, and satisfaction to the rest of the U.S.”
That eagerness to scale is understandable. A large factor in the company’s success in fueling activity arose from its enlarged operational footprint in North Carolina.
Flytrex originally began drone deliveries in Fayetteville in September, 2020. It then received authorization to fly goods to households in Raeford, and a bit later in Holly Springs. Then, last December, the company obtained the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) green light to expand its flight radius to one nautical mile, allowing it to cover over 10,000 households in the area.
Its consistent consultation with North Carolina authorities and the FAA that led to its broadening drone delivery range paid remarkable dividends: a 2,500% increase in Flytrex activity between last February and the end of 2021.
Bash says the company has also continued its participation in the FAA’s BEYOND initiative to help tackle the remaining challenges of safe and efficient drone integration. Included in that is the development of beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations that Bash considers key to the company’s efforts to extend its UAV activity further in the state, and strike out into new markets.
“I think we’ll see some certifications, more BVLOS operation under BEYOND, and things being set up for the big zero-to-one moment,” Bash told DroneDJ this month. “From there, operators will be able to develop as they wish, and launch where they want without the FAA holding their hand and asking about what’s going on.”
So what did Flytrex drones deliver most often to the households it served?
Burgers accounted for 27% of payloads, with popcorn, toothpaste, and crackers making up the most frequent packaged goods. Top draws on the Flytrex app were chicken sandwiches, cookie custard sandwiches, and boneless wings meal.
The most tightly-packed single payload delivered by a Flytrex automated drone was made up of four steakburgers, a cheeseburger, two large and one regular order of fries, with one large and medium soda respectively on the side. The tech-iest: an Xbox controller.