Robohub.org
 

Is drone delivery really a robot startup?

by
14 October 2013



share this:

Australian startup Zookal is making news today with their claims to be the world’s first drone delivery company.  It’s an exciting headline and I wish them well. But while you can quibble over who is really the first commercial drone delivery company, I think it’s more interesting that we’re hitting an inflection point where you have to ask, “is a company that uses robots a robot company”? Zookal is a textbook and student services startup. They use drones for delivery and marketing. They are not a drone or robot company. And that’s good!

Zookal is a textbook rental startup that also provides a digital note platform and internships for international students. Zookal are using drones developed by the University of Sydney engineering students and technically Flirtey is the actual drone startup. Or possibly Vimbra who are managing the logistics partnerships, ie between Zookal and Flirtey. However they all have cofounder Ahmed Haider in common.

Haider hopes to close the gap between the rapid developments in ecommerce and logistics which has remained largely unchanged. Textbooks are a great test bed for drone logistics as they are robust, reasonably expensive and in demand, unlike tacos, which may be in demand but are fragile and offer little margin for a startup.

“Textbooks are an excellent way to test the market as they allow for varying weights,” he says. “With the concentration of students in universities in Australia, we will have proof of concept that shows if you can deliver a textbook, then things such as urgent medical deliveries, clothes, shoes, fast food and other e-commerce will be much more viable.”

Drones are the first robots to become an off the shelf technology that is wide open for diverse uses, with drone delivery and aerial photography leading the way as consumer and small business verticals. What next? Drones are the gateway for consumer robotics where the robot is a tool that anyone can use. Increasingly, there will be more and more separation between companies that simply use robots and companies that make or deploy or augment robots. This inflexion point has occurred many times in various industries, most notably the automotive industry in the 70s and 80s.

While Australia is friendlier towards commercial UAV operation than the US, this is still a fledgeling industry with many standards and regulations still to be worked out. Flirtey are working in partnership with The Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering, a non-profit research institute, to develop a set of guidelines for the use of commercial drones.

“We hope to use this guide as a way to work through safety, privacy and community concerns locally which will hopefully set a benchmark for the rest of the world as to how to interact with this new technology,” says Haider. “I think this is going to be absolutely huge in terms of logistics,” he says.

So let’s keep Zookal with Flirtey on the list of robot startups for a while longer because they are creating interest and expanding awareness of potential business models which will increase the funding opportunities for more robot startups.

 



tags:


Andra Keay is the Managing Director of Silicon Valley Robotics, founder of Women in Robotics and is a mentor, investor and advisor to startups, accelerators and think tanks, with a strong interest in commercializing socially positive robotics and AI.
Andra Keay is the Managing Director of Silicon Valley Robotics, founder of Women in Robotics and is a mentor, investor and advisor to startups, accelerators and think tanks, with a strong interest in commercializing socially positive robotics and AI.





Related posts :



ep.

340

podcast

NVIDIA and ROS Teaming Up To Accelerate Robotics Development, with Amit Goel

Amit Goel, Director of Product Management for Autonomous Machines at NVIDIA, discusses the new collaboration between Open Robotics and NVIDIA. The collaboration will dramatically improve the way ROS and NVIDIA's line of products such as Isaac SIM and the Jetson line of embedded boards operate together.
23 October 2021, by

One giant leap for the mini cheetah

A new control system, demonstrated using MIT’s robotic mini cheetah, enables four-legged robots to jump across uneven terrain in real-time.
23 October 2021, by

Robotics Today latest talks – Raia Hadsell (DeepMind), Koushil Sreenath (UC Berkeley) and Antonio Bicchi (Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia)

Robotics Today held three more online talks since we published the one from Amanda Prorok (Learning to Communicate in Multi-Agent Systems). In this post we bring you the last talks that Robotics Today...
21 October 2021, by and

Sense Think Act Pocast: Erik Schluntz

In this episode, Audrow Nash interviews Erik Schluntz, co-founder and CTO of Cobalt Robotics, which makes a security guard robot. Erik speaks about how their robot handles elevators, how they have hum...
19 October 2021, by and

A robot that finds lost items

Researchers at MIT have created RFusion, a robotic arm with a camera and radio frequency (RF) antenna attached to its gripper, that fuses signals from the antenna with visual input from the camera to locate and retrieve an item, even if the item is buried under a pile and completely out of view.
18 October 2021, by

Robohub gets a fresh look

If you visited Robohub this week, you may have spotted a big change: how this blog looks now! On Tuesday (coinciding with Ada Lovelace Day and our ‘50 women in robotics that you need to know about‘ by chance), Robohub got a massive modernisation on its look by our technical director Ioannis K. Erripis and his team.
17 October 2021, by





©2021 - ROBOTS Association


 












©2021 - ROBOTS Association