Alan Hicks, CTO, Manna and Eamonn Grant, Head of Online, Samsung Ireland. (Credit: Andrew Downes/ Xposure)
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Move over couriers, drone delivery is here. The Ireland-based start-up, Manna, will now be using their delivery drones to bring Samsung mobile phones and tablets to residents in the town of Oranmore, Ireland, in as little as three minutes.

Based out of the University College Dublin’s NovaUCD research and innovations unit, Manna has been not-so-quietly testing drone delivery capabilities in Irish towns since March of 2020. They have so far focused on food and pharmaceutical deliveries – and have specifically tested the delivery of drugs during Corona-19 lockdowns. However, the delivery of technology signifies the entry into a new frontier.

“This partnership with Samsung marks the first of its kind in the world,” says Alan Hicks, CTO at Manna. “We recognize that the potential for the application of drone delivery is enormous.”

Three-minute delivery

The delivery drones fly at an altitude of 50-80 meters and a speed of over 60 km per hour. This means that deliveries can go from a business to someone’s front door in about three minutes, assuming they are within a two-kilometer distance from it. They are also autonomous, though Manna employees are currently monitoring deliveries closely by going to the recipient’s house in person during deliveries while they continue to test the drones.

Manna customers can order their products online and then wait for the drone to arrive, typically, in their gardens. It signals the recipient that it has arrived and then descends to about a 15-meter height before lowering the product down with the help of a biodegradable string.

A work in progress

Screenshot taken from Manna website.

As of now, the weight limit for a package is two kilograms. This works well for lighter products such as phones, food delivery, and pharmaceuticals, but would be difficult to use for anything much larger.

What is particularly relevant for people who live in areas that suffer more from rain and wind, is that the delivery services seem to stop working outside of very mild weather conditions.

At the time of writing, the website is unable to take deliveries due to forecasts of “bad weather.” It is unclear whether it is the weather or the technical limitations of the drones that is causing the delivery stoppages. However, AccuWeather is forecasting “a little rain” and 37 km winds on the dates in question, which, according to the Beaufort scale is between a moderate and strong breeze -enough to make small trees sway.

Read about other companies trying to make drone-delivery a mainstream reality