Flytrex Receives $ 40 Million In Funding To Help Make Drone Delivery “The Rule Not The Exception”

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The chicken wings you ordered could be delivered straight to your garden sooner than you think.

Flytrex, a Tel Aviv-based drone delivery startup, has just secured a $ 40 million investment to scale up operations across the United States. This Series C funding round brings the company’s total funding to date to $ 60 million.

According to a company statement, the funding “will pave the way for a future where drone delivery is the rule rather than the exception.”

The foundation is already in place, in fact. Flytrex first launched its drone delivery service in Iceland in 2017 and began testing deliveries to North Carolina in 2019.

Flytrex has also tested drone delivery waters in California through its partnership with El Pollo Loco. He is not alone in space either. Virtual kitchen company C3 has been testing drone delivery, also in California, while Uber Eats has been experimenting with McDonald’s drone deliveries, for example.

Since the start of these tests, the technology has become more sophisticated, while the need has become more critical thanks to the surge in the demand for delivery during COVID-19, coupled with an overwhelming labor shortage in the industry. catering industry. According to Flytrex, the company’s North Carolina order volume has more than increased tenfold since February.

“On-demand drone delivery has skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic and is becoming much more common, much faster than expected,” said Yariv Bash, CEO and co-founder, in a statement. “We are excited to continue to work with the FAA, the North Carolina Department of Transportation and others to deliver fast, affordable and sustainable on-demand drone delivery to more partners, communities and consumers across the country.

The FAA and Department of Transportation parts may be the final hurdles for drone delivery to become somewhat common across the country. For its part, Flytrex participated in the Federal Aviation Administration’s unmanned aircraft systems integration pilot program last year and continued the FAA’s initiative, BEYOND, to address additional integration challenges. of UAS. An investigation into whether or not Flytrex was working with other transportation departments outside of North Carolina has not been dismissed, but the company’s ongoing work in the state will likely help create a plan for wider deployment in space.

So far, these are small steps and until the FAA completely clears the runway, it likely will. But Flytrex’s latest fundraiser will certainly ensure the company is ready to take off whenever the green light is given.

Automation is booming in the food service space in general, from delivery opportunities like drones and robots, to fryers in the back of the house.

Chipotle recently invested in Nuro, for example, while DoorDash launched a new team called DoorDash Labs to focus on robotic delivery and recently acquired Chowbotics for automated meal preparation. Uber has taken a stake in Serve Robotics, while C3 founder Sam Nazarian is leading a funding round for Nommi to build a self-contained robotic kitchen and White Castle is expanding the deployment of Miso Robotics’ Flippy broil and fry robot.

There’s a reason investors are investing money in automation companies right now. The pandemic has accelerated our collective comfort levels with such contactless technology, to begin with. Operators have also become more comfortable, as well as more desperate as labor shortages plague the industry. For example, there are over a million fewer restaurant workers than in 2019, as well as an unprecedented quit rate.

Automation can fill these workforce gaps while facilitating operational efficiency, a big problem as operators juggle high volumes through multiple channels. The Nommi machine, for example, is capable of holding 330 bowls and lids before needing a refill.

In fact, about 50% of U.S. restaurateurs said they plan to use automation technology over the next two years to address labor shortages.

Where does drone delivery specifically fit into all of this? The potential is more intriguing than ever, as drones offer faster service speeds, a big deal as driving bottlenecks increase. For context, Flytrex’s drones are automated to fly at 32 mph and can bypass traffic.

Additionally, automated drones require less labor to operate, and therefore lower costs, which has become a major issue with delivery providers charging up to 30%. A 2019 study found that automated delivery could reduce delivery costs by up to 90%. Most chains have built-in high delivery costs into their menu prices, so drone delivery has the potential to excite not only investors, but also consumers who support the market.

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