Drone delivery as a service

“Manna is a drone delivery business using custom-designed drones carrying products from local retailers, so convenience stores, restaurants, pharmacies, directly from those locations to consumers in suburban and rural environments.”

Manna CEO Bobby Healey

Last-mile deliveries

“The aircraft flies at 80m at 80km per hour carrying the cargo inside it. When it arrives, it lowers itself down to about 10 to 15m and hovers there, opens the cargo bay doors and lowers the product to the ground using the biodegradable linen thread winch. So it's spectacular but extremely practical and we plan to completely replace delivery for the last mile.”

Under the hood

“The drone weighs 14kgs, has a tonne of GPUs onboard, multiple batteries, multiple flight computers. It's an unusual thing because it's completely redundant and carries a parachute, of course.”

Manna Drone Delivery as a Service

Technology challenges

“The technology problems are many in this type of application, but the biggest one is an application called sense-and-avoid. And that's where we use AI and a lot of sensors, a lot of GPU, to detect if there's birds or illegal drones in the sky that we need to avoid. To solve that problem, we have an Nvidia Xavier on board, lots of GPU, and lots of redundant systems to make sure the aircraft is always safe.”

Avoiding false-positives

“The difficult one is, if we're flying 80km per hour in darkness or in rain, and there's an incoming drone in the same conditions, it's very, very difficult to have no false positives and similarly, no false negatives. And it's happening 120 times a second. So this is a problem that's going to define whether or not the industry is allowed to commercialise at pace.”

Manna Drone Delivery as a Service

Aircraft-like regulation

“We are regulated by aviation regulators around the world. So think of us as a combination of an airline and an aircraft manufacturer in one and we have to get to exactly the same safety levels as any other airline or aircraft manufacturer.”

Testing in Ireland and beyond

“We've been live in Ireland for some time now; we're delivering to real people from real retail stores for the last month in Ireland. We plan to go further in Ireland again this year and early next year in the United States.”

Manna Drone Delivery as a Service

Looking to the future

“The future is going to be a complete replacement of road-based delivery for last-mile logistics. So every local retailer to every consumer in suburban rural areas will be done by drone. That is our belief and that is our mission.”

All images courtesy of Manna

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