Tánaiste Leo Varadkar was in Balbriggan last week where details of ambitious expansion plans by an Irish drone delivery company were announced.
Manna, the world’s first aviation-grade B2B (Business to Business) drone delivery “as a service” platform, has received an extremely positive reaction since launching in the Fingal town in recent months.
The company works with over 30 vendors, including Blasta Street Kitchen, Bó Bainne, Applegreen, Tesco, Healthwave, Quick Ink and Cuddles Pet Store, to deliver a range of products and food straight to customers’ homes.
Flying autonomously, a single Manna aircraft can complete 100 deliveries a day and one employee can remotely oversee up to 20 drones at the same time. Balbriggan’s population of 35,000 is currently served by four aircraft.
Manna fly custom-developed aerospace grade drones, with an average flight time of just three minutes. The drones operate within a 2km radius of Manna’s base at Millfield Shopping Centre, at an altitude of between 50 and 80 metres and a speed of over 60km/h. Deliveries, which must weigh less than 2kg, are delivered in packages roughly the size of a shoebox.
Customers can place orders via an app on their smartphone or tablet, with the service running seven days a week, 8am to 9pm.
Packages are lowered to the ground using a biodegradable thread, which detaches as soon as your delivery safely lands. During delivery, customers are asked to stay indoors or keep away from the drop zone until the drone has departed.
Manna recently commissioned a study conducted by the University of Maynooth, comparing the amount of carbon released during drone delivery with modes of transport such as cars, motorbikes and electric bikes. The results revealed that drones emitted between six and eight times less C02 than a small petrol car (1.4L engine).
The company has also worked with the Irish Government and HSE on a pilot test programme in Moneygall, Co Offaly, delivering medication to patients.
During his visit to Balbriggan, the Tánaiste was briefed on Manna’s plans for the remainder of this year and 2023. These include expansion into both the USA and Europe, as well as the development of a new manufacturing site.
The company, which employs 103 staff, also revealed it will launch in another large Dublin suburb, with a population of approximately 100,000.
Speaking at the announcement, Mr Varadkar said: “Manna is a great example of an indigenous Irish company at the cutting-edge of a high-potential growth industry. This year, Manna has created 50 new jobs in Balbriggan, and I know they have ambitious expansion plans for the future.”
Bobby Healy, chief executive and founder of Manna, said: “Rolling out Manna’s service domestically and internationally has always been part of our strategy and we are delighted that this is going to be achieved.
“Expanding into the USA and across Europe in 2022 and 2023, while also providing another large Dublin suburb with drone delivery and the addition of another manufacturing site, shows our rapid growth plans and dedication to our mission.”