Dronamics plans to run a “cargo drone airline” using drones built specifically for the purpose. Its flagship ‘Black Swan’ model will be able to carry 350 kg (770 lb) at a distance of up to 2,500 km (1,550 miles) faster, cheaper and with less emissions than currently available options.
Autonomous aircraft have long been regarded to have the most potential, albeit not in the field of flashy people-carrying drones, but rather in the more sedate world of freight. The most significant economic savings could be made here. Large, long-range cargo drones have the potential to be faster, cheaper, and emit less CO2 than conventional aeroplanes, enabling same-day transportation over very great distances. Many cargo carriers regard the “flying delivering van” as the holy grail.
ElroyAir (California, raised $56 million), hybrid electric, VTOL, so therefore short range; Natilus (California, funding undisclosed), uses a blended wing body, and is a large, longer-term project entailing probably quite high certification and production costs; and Beta (Vermont, $886 million raised), which is an electric VTOL.
Dronamics Has Raised $40 Million In Pre-Series A Funding
Dronamics enters this space from Bulgaria (although with headquarters in London). The business has already obtained a licence to operate in Europe and intends to establish a “freight drone airline” with drones designed expressly for the purpose. Dronamics promises that its flagship “Black Swan” model will be able to transport 350 kg (770 lb) across a distance of up to 2,500 km (1,550 miles) faster, cheaper, and with lower emissions than current options.
It has recently announced that it has collected a total of $40 million in pre-Series A funding from VCs and Angels.
Dronamics has received funding from Founders Factory, Speedinvest, Eleven Capital, and the Strategic Development Fund (SDF), the investment arm of Abu Dhabi’s Tawazun Council.
“We’re the size of a delivery van (Renault Kangoo / VW Caddy), and we can travel all of Europe in 12 hours or less for a fraction of the cost of airfreight,” Svilen Rangelov, co-founder and CEO of Dronamics, noted via email. That is, we operate between airfreight and road freight, and by developing a faster, cheaper, greener middle-mile, we can help consumers save a lot of money.”
“Right now, a fulfilment center’s same-day radius is 2 hours driving… The only approach to increase same-day coverage is to utilise a low-cost long-distance middle-mile drone (a flying delivering van). “With our range, we can reach all of Europe same-day from a single warehouse – no one else, traditional or drone competitor, can offer that,” he added.
He stated that, in contrast to competitors, they are already licenced to fly (LUC – Light UAS Operator Certificate, under the new EU drone laws), have a lower cost profile, and sell capacity rather than aircraft: “This helps us to innovate and iterate more quickly because the feedback loop between R&D and operations is substantially shorter.”
The investment in Dronamics by SDF Venture Capital Division will now result in the formation of a UAE-based joint venture, with Dronamics operations in the UAE serving as a centre for the Middle East and North Africa region.
In a statement, SDF’s managing director and CEO, Abdullah Nasser Al Jaabari, said, “When it comes to Dronamics, their economics are highly promising, and potential users of Dronamics would profit from swift and efficient cargo delivery.”
The $40 million raised thus far is in addition to the €2.5 million ($2.7 million) grant Dronamics received from the European Commission through its European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator programme, as well as the EIC’s material commitment to support Dronamics’ Series A round with an additional €12.5 million ($13.45 million).
The Black Swan can fly up to 20,000 feet, 2,500 kilometres (1,550 miles), and carry up to 350 kilogrammes (770 pounds).
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