Drone company Manna links up with Cubic for 5G deliveries

Technology will allow restaurants and customers to track deliveries in real time

‘The future of last-mile delivery is an airborne one.’ File photograph: Getty

‘The future of last-mile delivery is an airborne one.’ File photograph: Getty

 

Irish drone delivery company Manna has linked up with Cubic Telecom to bring 5G connectivity to its fleet.

The arrangement, which was announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, will see Manna use Cubic’s Pace connectivity platform – usually used by cars – to track the location of, monitor and control the drones. The Pace platform is used in millions of cars in 93 markets, with Audi, Volkswagen, Porsche among the manufacturers using the technology.

Manna’s drone service aims to deliver food from restaurants to customers in three minutes, using drones that can travel at speeds of up to 80km/h. The company is planning to begin testing the drone deliveries in April, beginning with one location before expanding to further locations later in 2020.

Cubic’s software will be embedded into the drones at the manufacturing stage, and will exchange data in real time between the drone, restaurant and customer – meaning consumers can find out exactly where their pizza delivery is at any time.

“The future of last-mile delivery is an airborne one. One of the most difficult challenges in making that work at scale is reliable communications between our drone fleet and our cloud services layer,” said Manna’s chief technology officer Alan Hicks. “We are delighted to be partnering with Cubic for this critical component of our technology stack - bringing us one step closer to our dream of pervasive, autonomous drone delivery for the planet.”

“Everyone is waiting for the commercial drone delivery market to take off as we all see the true potential in revolutionising the delivery services industry,” said Cubic Telecom’s chief executive Barry Napier. “Cubic’s experience in delivering proven global connectivity solutions with real time analytics across the globe will enable Manna’s custom-developed autonomous service to reduce the cost and time of deliveries, while lessening the overall environmental impact.”

Founded by entrepreneur Bobby Healy, Manna recently raised $3 million (€2.7 million) in a seed round that is expected to support the company’s commercial growth. The new funding brings its total to date to $5.2 million (€4.6 million) in seed funding.