With what mission and objectives, the company was set up? In short, tell us about your journey since the inception of the company?
A2Z Drone Delivery was born out of an engineering project when I was studying at Brown University. We designed and fabricated a very early prototype of what would eventually evolve into the Rapid Delivery System, our commercial drone winch which is now in its second manufactured generation. With the help of some early seed funding, we refined the design and brought the first purpose-built UAV winch to market in October of 2020. Among the early adopters of our RDS1 was DroneUp, which is among the leaders in residential drone delivery in the US. Over the last few years, we have continued to evolve the Rapid Delivery System and incorporated it into our fleet of commercial cargo drones that include the just launched RDST Longtail and the long-range RDSX Pelican.
How long has this been in the making? Help us understand what some of the practical obstacles you faced to launch the drone?
The new RDST Longtail has been about a year in development. It is essentially a redesign of our first generation RDST cargo drone with new features that customers have been requesting, like rain proofing and advanced avionics. The biggest practical challenge with any of our drone launches is time. Our approach to engineering and design puts the end user at the forefront, so we try to anticipate their needs but also really understand how customers will use our UAVs and how consumers or package recipients will interact with the platforms. To best understand these dynamics, we conduct extensive real-world trials with our newest drones at our test facility before bringing products to market.
Please brief us about the products along with its specifications & your targeted industries/customers?
We believe depositing payloads from altitude is the safest way to conduct last mile drone deliveries. Leveraging our Rapid Delivery System allows the drone to maintain a safe hover high above people and property, and away from potential obstructions like powerlines or trees. It also helps mitigate rotor noise for consumers, and their neighbours, on the ground. From a practical standpoint, keeping the drone above the tree line improves line of sight for visual observers, allowing them to push out to longer delivery distances while staying in eye contact with the drone.
We currently offer our Rapid Delivery System drone winch as a standalone product ready to be integrated with any drone, along with two commercial delivery drone platforms. The RDST Longtail, which was just released, is intended to be an all-around last mile delivery drone. It has a max range of 26km without a payload onboard. With a 5kg parcel attached to the drone winch, it can reach 11km round trip, so the effective range of an average payload is about 5.5km from the logistics base. The Premium version is rainproof so it can operate in inclement weather, and comes equipped with a factory integrated RDS2 drone winch.
Our RDSX Pelican is the long-range drone for a delivery fleet. It leverages a hybrid VTOL design to extend its range out to 40km with a 5kg payload. The Pelican is the ideal solution for logistics operators looking to streamline delivery costs. Compared to costly ground transportation, the Pelican can delivery payloads for just 13 cents per kg per km.
Our purpose-built delivery drones are targeted to anyone looking to make more affordable and more environmentally friendly last mile deliveries. Obviously, most people immediately think about residential parcel deliveries as the main use case for drone delivery, but we focus on a diverse array of commercial applications. We have customers leveraging our products for shore-to-ship deliveries, delivering emergency equipment to first responders in the field, expediting search and rescue efforts, natural disaster response, and more.
We also created specialty delivery mechanisms to attach to our tether that can deposit payloads when they touchdown, so recipients do not need to interact with the drone or even be present when parcels arrive.
What is your biggest USP that diﬀerentiates the company from competitors?
One of our core objectives is to democratize commercial drone delivery making it a tool for anyone that wants to conduct last mile deliveries, whether the payload is a food delivery or emergency medical equipment. Our solutions are ready-to-fly right off the shelf, making them a seamless addition to any drone logistics operation. We also put a premium on ease of use for the operators. Our drones can deliver any box the shipper has on hand rather than having to rely on specialty payload boxes. Also, with our ground control station, operators can create delivery routes to include dedicated waypoints, then with the touch of a single button, the drone will fly that route, make its delivery or pickup, and return to land back at the logistics hub all autonomously.
What are some of the milestones that you envision for your company this year?
This year we are focused on our two new platforms, the Pelican and Longtail. We have been growing our team, manufacturing capabilities, testing facility, and embedding our products more deeply into our customer’s tool belt. We are also working on exciting new products that further expand our mission of improving drone safety and privacy.