Ireland’s largest same-day courier, Pony Express Couriers, have made the first ever authorised delivery by drone in Ireland. The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) gave authorisation for the flight took just two minutes to complete from take-off to parcel drop, with the drone taking the parcel, weighing 250 grams, from the shoreline to a boat at sea almost 200 metres away.
The parcel contained medical supplies: an emergency thermal blanket, an Epi-pen, bandages, plasters, thermometer, first aid leaflet, gloves, wipes and burn dressings. It also contained food and a drink in the form of a high-energy bar and water. The supplies were attached to the underside of the drone in a waterproof container.
The flight was organised by Belle Moore (10 years old), a student of Alexandra College Junior School, Milltown, as part of her research for her project on drones for the Intel Mini Scientist Competition. As well as roping in Pony Express and the IAA, Belle had assistance from FlyRyte Drone Academy who train commercial drone pilots in Ireland. Gearóid Ó Briain, Head of Training at FlyRyte helped Belle by controlling the delivery drone.
Although Pony Express are not planning on offering a drone parcel delivery service in Dublin or Ireland any time soon, they are keen to be at the leading edge of all new developments in their section. “We were delighted to be involved in Ireland’s first drone parcel delivery and we’re proud that we, as an Irish company, are trialling the technology.” said Audrey Browne, Operations Manager of Pony Express.
Audrey thinks that the delivery of low value, urgent items such as takeaway food, especially to remote rural areas is highly likely. However important city deliveries such as the majority of our same-day express services could not be trusted to drones yet, the possibility of interception, loss or damage would be too great. When parcel delivery by drone can be proven to work safely in an urban context, then we will revaluate the situation, but for now Ponly Express will continue offering parcel delivery by o traditional methods of bicycles, motorbike, vans and trucks