An Ontario-based company aiming to become Canada’s first provider of drone parcel delivery services is about to begin commercial testing in the wide-open skies of southeast Alberta.
Publicly traded Drone Delivery Canada — which is attempting to develop a logistics platform that would enable governments and corporations to deliver goods by drone — announced Tuesday it is expanding its testing program from the Waterloo, Ont., region to the UAS Range near Foremost. The company will use the Alberta location to test its systems with the goal of progressing to commercial rollout of its drone delivery logistics platform.
“It’s great for us. It (the Foremost site) gives us wide-open spaces to take our testing to the next level,” said Tony Di Benedetto, CEO of Drone Delivery Canada. “Our goal is to commence commercialization as early as 2018.”
The company, which has already signed deals with office supply giant Staples and automotive supplier NAPA Auto Parts — both of which are interested in using new technology to expand their logistics capabilities — hopes to develop an unmanned aerial delivery system that will eventually allow corporate and government clients to deliver packages across Canada via drone.
“Our clients foresee using this technology as part of their business logistics moving forward into the future,” DiBenedetto said. “Initially, we want to launch in rural Canada and then, over time, bring the technology closer to an urbanized area.”
Companies and researchers have been flying drones near Foremost — about 100 km southwest of Medicine Hat — since 2008, ever since the local village council together with the Canadian Centre for Unmanned Vehicle Systems established the Foremost Airspace for Unmanned Systems. The area was seen as ideal for the burgeoning sector because of its flat Prairie terrain, low population density and high number of sunny, clear days.
However, up until now, all drone flights at the location had to remain within the visual line of sight of the operator on the ground. It wasn’t until November of 2016 that Transport Canada approved the Foremost UAS Range as the country’s first test site where drones with “Beyond Visual Line of Sight” capabilities can operate, opening significant commercial opportunities. The change makes the Foremost site — which offers operators 700 square nautical miles of restricted airspace up to 18,000 feet above sea level — the country’s premier location for unmanned aerial vehicle research, development, and testing.
“Unmanned vehicles are the fastest growing sector of the aerospace industry right now. So this is a timely thing, not just for Canada but for those foreign companies that want to come and fly here, too,” said Doug Hanna, manager of the Foremost UAS Range. “For a lot of applications, beyond visual line of sight is needed.”
From more information visit www.dronedeliverycanada.com