Meet aviation entrepreneur and inventor Matthew Sweeny, who is the founder and CEO of Flirtey, an industry-leading, independent drone delivery company.
I had a chance to interview Sweeny, who is currently reinventing the delivery process for humanitarian, online retail and food delivery industries – with a mission to save lives and improve lifestyles by making delivery instant for everyone.
Under his leadership, Flirtey has worked with several top companies to conduct deliveries of medicine to rural healthcare clinics, ship-to-shore deliveries of medical samples, and deliveries of retail and e-commerce items to consumer homes. Sweeny was happy to discuss about drone delivery safety issues and other trends.
You can read the complete interview below:
Drones offer an appealing alternative to traditional cargo delivery methods, but they also present complexities in terms of public safety, privacy, congested airspace, environmental damages, regulations, etc. What kept drone deliveries from commercially taking off in 2019?
Flirtey has received a multiple-provisioned waiver from the FAA that allows a single Flirtey pilot to operate ten Flirtey drones while conducting drone delivery demonstrations beyond visual line of sight, and at night. The DOT’s Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) is designed to accelerate safe drone integration into the National Airspace System. Flirtey is working with the DOT and FAA to secure regulatory approvals to scale commercial operations in the near future. In 2019, Flirtey announced a partnership with TRI Center, with the goal of scaling up drone deliveries of food at the largest industrial center in the United States.
One big hurdle is the regulations surrounding delivery drones, which in most cases, don’t exist! Many companies are having to work (often battle) with local authorities to come up with regulations that are suitable and beneficial for the companies to deliver by drone. What is the current situation in the US today?
Flirtey and the drone delivery industry are working with the FAA to achieve safe and scalable regulatory approvals for commercial drone delivery nationwide. Flirtey’s focus is the safety and custodianship of the National Airspace as We pioneer an industry that is set to save lives and improve lifestyles by making delivery instant for everyone. Flirtey’s next major milestone in this journey is scaling up drone delivery operations at TRI Center, the largest industrial park in the United States, as a stepping stone to our goal of scaling store to door drone delivery nationwide.
Since its inception in 2013, Flirtey has accomplished several milestone successes as a drone delivery company. It became the first to conduct the first-ever FAA-approved drone delivery and went on to become the first drone company to perform an autonomous drone delivery to home. It pioneered an AED drone delivery service in the US and partnered with several medical and commercial partners to create the fastest and efficient logistics technology in the world. What is coming next? What to expect from Flirtey in 2020?
In December 2019, Flirtey announced it was conducting drone delivery demonstrations inside the largest industrial center in the United States, TRI Center, in Nevada. TRI Center is home to more than 100 companies, including the Tesla Gigafactory, Walmart, and Google, and the companies within the park employ approximately 25,000 people. Flirtey’s goal in 2020 is to expand from routine drone delivery demonstrations into routine food deliveries on behalf of a TRI Center food establishment that wants to expand its delivery services to employees in the park and in the process prove the scalability of Flirtey’s drone delivery service.
Flirtey has recently been granted a key patent that will enhance its fundamental technology to improve safety in drone flights and deliveries. Can you tell us about the safety mechanism and technology which detects the operational errors during the flight?
As prescribed in the patent, the patent covers a technique for landing a drone using a parachute. The technique includes a parachute deployment system (PDS) that can deploy a parachute installed in a drone and land the drone safely. The parachute may be deployed automatically, e.g., in response to a variety of failures such as a free fall, or manually from a base unit operated by a remote user. For example, the PDS can determine the failure of the drone based on data obtained from various sensors and automatically deploy the parachute if any failure is determined. In another example, the remote user can “kill” the drone, that is, cut off the power supply to the drone and deploy the parachute by activating an onboard “kill” switch from the base unit.
Despite some drone company failures in recent years and slow movement on the regulatory front, companies continue to make progress within the commercial and industrial drone space. Drone delivery trials have been happening for the last few years, with giants such as Google, Amazon, and Walmart having a crack. Tell us about the future of drone delivery in 2-5 years.
Flirtey’s mission is to save lives and improve lifestyles by making delivery instant for everyone. Drone delivery with a trusted, independent aircraft designer and manufacturer, like Flirtey, will save lives and improve lifestyles. From Flirtey’s commitment to saving lives by delivering Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) to cardiac arrest patients, Flirtey is making it possible to get people what they need, whether it’s life-saving support, goods from your local convenience store or on-demand delivery of food to your door.