The drone services division of UK delivery and vertiport company Skyports has announced it will be integrating the heavy payload electric vertical takeoff and landing UAVs by manufacturer Pyka into its fleet, thereby considerably expanding the goods its craft can haul in a single flight.
Skyports announced the agreement on Monday, saying its Skyports Drone Services unit would begin using Oakland, California-based Pyka’s Pelican Cargo drone, whose 175-plus kilogram payload capacity and 1.85 x 3-meter freight volume will offer increased delivery capabilities. The company currently relies on a fleet of smaller UAVs for its transport work, including Australian partner Swoop Aero’s Kookaburra.
The linkup, said Skyports, will provide what it called Pyka’s best-in-class heavy payload UAVs, allowing it to dramatically increase the volume of products transported for drone delivery clients – and better adapt the selection of craft deployed in function of mission demands.
“Having a fully electric, autonomous, heavy-lift cargo drone in our fleet is a real gamechanger,” said Skyports Drone Services director, Alex Brown. “To date, we’ve been focused on operations with smaller, high value payloads. The introduction of the Pelican Cargo brings new capabilities and means we can now fly significant volumes of cargo long distances, connecting communities in remote areas and providing a regular, robust form of transport in and out of hard-to-reach areas. Importantly, we’re doing this now – this isn’t future gazing, it’s a ready-to-go service.”
The company plans on using the new cargo craft to transport larger reserves for humanitarian aid groups, logistics and delivery companies, and healthcare and medical customers.
Read: Open Skies Cornwall opens new phase of drone development testing
Skyports said it initially plans on operating Pyka cargo drones as part of its work in the Open Skies Cornwall project, which is developing UAV activity on the peninsula – including shore-to-ship reprovisioning and delivery services in conjunction with partners, including the local Falmouth Harbour. The program is one of four companies that was chosen to launch by UK Research and Innovation as part of its Future Flight grant competition last July.
Pyka CEO Michael Norcia says the selection of his company’s heavy payload cargo drone by one of the leading innovators in global UAV services is a major boost to the start-up only founded in 2017.
“Skyports Drone Services is one of the most sophisticated drone operators in the market and an ideal partner for the deployment of Pyka’s Pelican Cargo,” says Norcia. “We are thrilled to be working with the team at Skyports to demonstrate the Pelican Cargo’s revolutionary capabilities and operating economics.”