18 Sep 2023
Cranfield, Bedfordshire, United Kingdom – We are thrilled to announce participation of IONA Drones as the latest member of Drone Logistics Ecosystem (DLE). IONA develops the first drone solution designed for the needs and regulations of rural and remote logistics, enabling efficient and sustainable autonomous deliveries anywhere and for everybody.
“The drone industry evolved into a major logistics contender as its payload ratio makes it extremely interesting for small volumes and low population density: at IONA, we consider drones as a complementary technology that will join any (good) logistics provider’s fleet in the next year. Energy efficiency – and decoupling the cargo at ease – becomes instrumental when energy prices skyrocket like a bottle of vintage champagne at auction: the world starts looking at zero-emission alternatives and realise that electric vans are still too heavy to be usable for small cargo i.e., rural communities, despite the undisputed fact that delivery is much more important for rural residents than in cities! Car dependency there is a social and environmental issue. This is also what makes drones there socially desirable. In parallel, the timing was right: new regulatory frameworks, and Commercial Off-The-Shelf components developed in recent years by drone manufacturers for medical/photo as well as RC aircraft hobbyists made it possible to produce drones differently! Who said that hardware wasn’t scalable when you have standardisation, that also supports sustainability (i.e., leasing + standards = viability of a closed supply chain and recycling)? Many clusters have started around drone logistics, and I noticed the DLE a long time ago. Being impressed by their work, it’s a real joy to become a member. Think of it as the United Nations of drone logistics. A hub where industry leaders share ideas, not just business cards. Drone delivery is not just ascending; it's soaring to new heights, literally.” Etienne Louvet, CEO & Founder.
IONA DRONES is an innovative logistics provider utilising drone technology to address delivery challenges in rural and remote areas. Backed by an expert team with strong ties to renowned institutions such as Cranfield University, Carbon13, Techstars Los Angeles, and The National Robotarium (Edinburgh), the company is developing the first drone designed for the needs and regulations of rural deliveries. Their Sonnet Quad has a patented eV-STOL (electric Vertical/Short Take-Off and Landing) featuring a tilting rotor, that makes it four times more energy efficient than any alternative and has the capacity to operate as a VTOL or as a fixed-wing aircraft. This provides extended range, larger cargo capacity, and lower costs. Furthermore, its energy efficiency enables it to operate under 25kg/55lbs of Maximum Take Off Weight, a regulatory threshold for rapid commercialisation and waivers. The solution increases margins from existing segments like medical deliveries and opens new ones like day-to-day rural logistics. It reaches breakeven with only 70 residents in a community, i.e., 10-20 times fewer than delivery vans require, also saving 500kg of CO2 emissions and £400 in purchasing power per year and per person due to reduced car dependency and decarbonisation.
Drone Logistics Ecosystem™
DLE is a global/virtual network of Companies, Universities, the Public/Governments, and Investors operating in the drone logistics industry. The aim of the DLE is to bring together stakeholders to collaborate to stimulate standardization in this rapidly emerging industry. Hence, accelerating cross-border marketing and commercialization of products and services of its members. Since most of the companies in this industry are early-stage start-ups with limited access to funding, manpower and expertise, DLE is the ideal platform for companies to share their expertise to co-develop products and services and/or acquire necessary cross-border market access in partnership with other members.
In the past 2 years, DLE has expanded to include 51 organizations, consisting of 47 companies, 2 universities and world's largest drone association, Japan UAS Industrial Development Association, across 21 different countries. In a short period of time, we have been able to generate several international proof-of-concept projects with a few commercialization prospects in the pipeline. The pandemic has restricted our movement and DLE has been a great tool for our members to streamline communication and product development. We are in the process to create a commercialization model to help our members reach the market faster in partnership with other members.