Manna Aero trials on-demand drone delivery

Irish drone delivery company Manna Aero is trialling on-demand drone to delivery in the small town of Oranmore, Ireland. The firm plans to roll the service across Ireland and the EU in the coming years.

“We had someone order a head of broccoli. Who orders a head of broccoli for drone delivery? The broccoli cost 79 cents — and then they paid €5 for the delivery,” says Bobby Healy, founder and chief executive of Manna Aero, an Irish startup developing a drone delivery as a service.

Flown from the roof of the town’s Tesco grocery store, the delivery would have taken around three and a half minutes, significantly competing on speed with cycle or e-cargo-bike on-demand delivery services. The drone then hovers over the landing location and lowers the items by rope to the customer on the ground.

The Manna Aero drones have a payload capacity of 2kg. It charges a subscription fee to its retail clients who then pass on a delivery charge of around €5 per delivery to the customers.

Manna Aero has applied for a new EU-wide drone delivery licence and has now raised investment from John and Patrick Collison, the brothers behind the Stripe electronic payments company. It plans a Series A funding round later in 2021. T

The company plans to take on ground-based takeaway delivery companies Just Eat and Deliveroo in rural and suburban locations, recognising the difficulty of such deliveries in dense urban areas. The firm says that a town of around 25,000 residents would be the baseline for a profitable operation (Oranmore has just 8,000). It plans to start a new trial at a larger town in Ireland later this year.