Drones are useful for a lot more things than helping you remember where you left your ladder after your brother-in-law crashes one on your neighbour’s roof on Christmas Day. One of them is delivering things, as companies like Amazon have been exploring. For remote and seasonal communities that don’t have postal or courier services, they may be just the ticket for getting stuff around.
That’s the market Drone Delivery Canada (DDC), a company that trades on the TSX, is aiming at. It recently announced a $2.5 million agreement with Moose Cree First Nation on southern James Bay to provide commercial service for its communities of Moose Factory and Moosonee. The $2.5 million is expected to cover one year of operations, with further years possible.
The agreement is a big step forward from tests DDC ran last summer in the community as part of Transport Canada’s Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) pilot project. DDC was one of four companies Transport Canada chose in 2018 to participate in BVLOS trials. While two of them were concerned with pipeline and infrastructure surveys in western Canada, Canada Post was also involved, to see how drones can be used in remote and rural areas.
The DDC announcement for Moose Cree First Nation service gives a fair idea of what drones could be doing for cottagers who don’t have an easy way to take delivery of sometimes vital packages.
A Sparrow X1000 cargo delivery drone will carry packages weighing up to five kilograms that will include “letters, general parcels, medical supplies, and other general necessities.” The trials on preplanned flight paths included automotive parts, so maybe there’s hope in the future if the fuel pump on your outboard fails and you have no way to get to the nearest marina.
Before your lake association decides to launch its own drone delivery air force, know that not anyone can get into the business. If you’re operating a BVLOS drone (an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, or UAV, in dronespeak) that weighs more than 25 kilos for work or research, you need a Special Flight Operations Certificate from Transport Canada. And if you’re flying one for fun, you need the certificate if the drone weighs more than 35 kilos.