Drone Delivery Startup Flytrex Raises $7.5 million in Series B Funding | SMBs Keep Pace with eCommerce Giants on the Drone Delivery Front
BY Isabella Lee23 January 2019
Drone delivery may be facing regulatory challenges, but investors still see a promising future for the industry—backing it with millions of dollars in funding.
Image Source: Flytrex PR
Current FAA regulations prohibit drones from flying over people and moving vehicles, which makes drone delivery nearly impossible in urban and densely-populated areas. On the other hand, rural areas have their own unique set of challenges, like poor connectivity and a lack of infrastructure to support drone deliveries.
Despite these challenges, companies remain willing to invest in the future of drone delivery. eCommerce titans Google and Amazon continue to make investments in drone delivery technology, noting that drones provide an economically viable solution to their consumers’ desire for faster deliveries. In fact, the number of delivery drones in the eCommerce industry is expected to be at least 2.2 Million Units by 2025, according to this report.
However, marketplace giants like Google and Amazon may not be the ones to propel drone deliveries off the ground. Instead, investors are taking note of small and mid-sized drone startup companies like Flytrex.
Startup Flytrex Keeps Pace with eCommerce Giants on the Drone Delivery Front
On January 8, 2019, Flytrex announced that it secured $7.5 million in Series B funding, bringing the company’s total to $11 million. The round is led by Benhamou Global Ventures (BGV) with additional investment from btov.
Flytrex is a six-year-old startup based out of Tel Aviv, Israel. They’re on a mission to advance drone delivery services on a global scale through partnerships with large and small companies.
This investment is a vote of confidence in Flytrex’ ongoing success propelling the drone industry forward and in our vision of making UAV delivery the rule rather than the exception.
—Yariv Bash, CEO and Co-Founder of Flytrex.
With Flytrex, drone delivery isn’t reserved just for bix-box companies. Small and mid-sized retailers can now keep pace with the e-commerce giants thanks to Flytrex’ end-to-end drone delivery solution. Flytrex claims they can enable any business, from SMBs to e-commerce giants, to integrate same-day autonomous drone delivery into their offering. Their unique cloud-connected drone control center system provides all the tools needed to manage a fleet of delivery drones.
How Flytrex Plans to Use Their Newly Secured Funding
Flytrex will use a portion of the funds secured during the Series B funding round to up-scale their operations and technology. They’re known for their patented “InAir” wire-drop system for delivery drones. The system employs a tethered cord that gently lowers the package from the drone to the ground after the customer confirms their location on Flytrex’ phone app—maximizing safety and drastically lowering noise-pollution.
Image Source: Flytrex
Second, Flytrex plans to use the funding to further their pilot program in North Carolina. Flytrex has been working in partnership with the state’s Department of Transportation (DOT) since 2017 to test deliveries from restaurants to businesses. They are preparing to further their work in North Carolina in 2019 as part of the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program (UAS IPP). As participants in the UAS IPP, Flytrex and the North Carolina DOT are authorized to test drone delivery operations over people, at night, and beyond visual line of sight in defined airspace. The goal of the North Carolina program is to enable small businesses to utilize this delivery platform for commercial purposes.
And finally, Flytrex will also use the funds to improve existing drone delivery services in Iceland and North Dakota. Flytrex runs an ongoing drone delivery operation in Reykjavík, Iceland and recently began a drone delivery service at King’s Walk Golf Course in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
At King’s Walk, Flytrex uses a drone to deliver refreshments to golf course patrons. They can place an order within the Flytrex app, selecting from the clubhouse restaurant menu. Then, they choose from a list of geofenced drop-off sites to which the drone will fly with the packaged order. The drone will remain airborne until the intended recipient confirms they’re nearby. It will then drop the food and refreshments with the “InAir” wire-drop system. See the system in action in the video below.
Flytrex touts the King’s Walk program as the “first fully operational golf course drone delivery system in the U.S.” To remain in line with the FAA’s regulations, Flytrex’ drones remain within line of sight and fly over routes without people below.
We recently reviewed progress on the drone delivery front in our 2018 year-in-review. Regulatory hurdles and logistics prevented drone deliveries from fully taking, but companies like Flytrex are giving us hope for 2019. They’re committed to furthering the technology and encouraging a regulatory environment that will support routine drone deliveries. We can’t wait to see what advances they make in their upcoming UAS IPP experiments to take place this year in North Carolina.