Residents of two northern Ontario towns are going to need to start growing accustomed to drone fly-bys.
That’s because Drone Delivery Canada (DDC) — a drone services company based in Vaughan, Ontario — has earned testing approval from Transport Canada and is currently testing autonomous drones in the northern Ontario communities of Moosonee and Moose Factory, Ontario.
The company is the brainchild of Tony Di Benedetto, who decided to pursue drones after he saw the benefit of a logistics corporation to serve Canada’s remote and rural communities.
“We knew if we could figure out how to solve this problem, not only from the technology side, the human capital side, but also the regulatory side — if we could figure out how to build a company around this and utilize this technology to serve a purpose for society, I think we would have something very unique,” said Di Benedetto, in a phone interview with MobileSyrup.
“”We’ve slowly continued to push the envelope.”
The company became the first drone company to trade on the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE), when it listed on June 16th, 2016.
However, it wasn’t until October 2016 — when the company earned its first flight license — that DDC really took off the ground.
“Since then, we’ve received a number of flight licenses for casting, we’ve slowly continued to push the envelope,” explained Di Benedetto.
What makes DDC’s tests in Moosonee and Moose Factory so interesting is that the drones aren’t manned. Instead, they’re fully autonomous and are even capable of flying through the extreme weather conditions — the brisk winds and heavy precipitation found — in northern Ontario.
Not only that, but the drones fly through a heavy-traffic airspace, where roughly 100 helicopters and other aircraft travel on a daily basis.
“[DDC solves a real-world problem and that’s really the foundation to our business.”
“We’ve been flying from very strategic points within the communities,” said Di Benedetto. “Our platform to start is based on a predefined flight path.”
As of right now, DDC’s drones are able to integrate within the existing flightpaths of other aircraft. The drones also don’t currently carry any cargo.
The ultimate goal, however, is for DDC’s drones to carry medical and health supplies and even food shipments to communities that are otherwise inaccessible via typical commercial methods.
“They don’t have roads, they don’t have easy access to supplies, and when they have have access, it’s very very expensive,” said Di Benedetto. “[DDC] solves a real-world problem and that’s really the foundation to our business.”
Regulating drones with little regulation in place
While DDC’s test have been successful so far, Di Benedetto is quick to point out that there are still a number of hurdles that the company needs to fly over.
The chief regulatory hurdle is that there’s currently very little regulation governing the use of drones in Canada.
Transport Canada introduced a series of drone rules for consumer aircraft earlier this year, but the regulations for the commercial use of drones is still very much in flux.
“We have this grand scheme of what we believe is the way it should be.”
Di Benedetto would know — DDC’s been working with the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport to help showcase how commercial drones can be a useful asset for all Canadians.
“The part three or four years has been an information process that we’ve been working through, making people aware of how this technology is, what the benefits of this technology is, and how we believe this technology can be integrated in our environment in a safe way,” said Di Benedetto. “We have this grand scheme of what we believe is the way it should be.”
That grand scheme might still be some time away, but Di Benedetto is confident both in his country, as well as the federal government’s ability to visualize his ideas.
As of right now, however, the goal is to keep testing and gather more essential data.