European middle-mile drone delivery specialist Dronamics has chosen Australian aviation engineering and manufacturing company Quickstep as its first major partner in producing its automated Black Swan UAVs.
The news was delivered during the first day of the Farnborough International Airshow Monday, which has already generated several major announcements by next-generation aircraft companies. Though Dronamics has said it hopes to launch initial commercial middle-mile drone deliveries later this year, its partnership with Quickstep aims to take its flagship Black Swan UAV from a prototype to the mass production level needed to scale that activity.
The first of those production-volume is expected to be delivered in 2023. The companies plan on increasing manufacturing rates of the craft from there, producing “hundreds” annually over the next four years. As part of the deal, Dronamics will also launch middle-mile aerial deliveries in Australia in 2023, using drones produced locally.
The development is the most recent in a series of significant steps by Dronamics to make the middle-mile drone delivery concept its founders conceived an operational reality.
Most sector companies have focused on final-leg aerial transport between retailing outlets and customers via smaller UAVs. Dronamics, by contrast, is wagering there’s a major market to be created – and demand to be satisfied – by flying goods over much longer distances, and speeding them to consumers who currently must wait days for ground transportation to arrive.
To do that, Dronamics has created the autonomous Black Swan delivery drone, which is designed to carry 350 kg over distances of up to 2,500 km. Last May, the company and its craft became the first certified to operate across the European Union as a commercial UAV airline. Working from its command center in Malta, Dronamics has also been busy widening the network of airports across the EU that will facilitate its cargo flights to clients.
With initial activity planned for launch later this year, the main challenge remaining for Dronamics has been finding a partner to produce sufficient numbers of delivery drones with middle-mile capacities to scale as the business takes off. Now, said company Cofounder and Chief Technology Officer Konstantin Rangelov, that has now been assured in its deal with Quickstep.
“The first strategic manufacturing partnership is a key milestone in our mission to enable same-day delivery for everyone, everywhere,” said Rangelov. “As an innovator who is challenging the status quo in cargo mobility, we are thrilled to have the support of an experienced partner like Quickstep to help us realize the full potential of our solution.”
Quickstep CEO Mark Burgess was equally enthusiastic about being a part of Dronamic’s efforts to redefine drone delivery activity by adding the new middle-mile link.
“Quickstep shares Dronamics passion for innovation and this is an exciting partnership,” Burgess said. “We are delighted to be taking their Black Swan aircraft from prototype to production. The Dronamics solution could well revolutionize the middle-mile cargo delivery sector and this partnership gives Quickstep the opportunity to provide our engineering and manufacturing expertise into delivering a large, sophisticated cargo drone.”