SOURCE The Robot report: Although aerial drone deliveries have been tested for medical supplies and e-commerce, other applications are possible. Reliable Robotics Corp. and Giumarra Cos. this week announced the joint launch of an automated flight test program to help solve supply chain and delivery challenges within the fresh produce industry.
Watch Autonomous Plan Demo 🖥️ https://youtu.be/_afB7GzBY7w
In its successful inaugural flight on Aug. 7, the program delivered tree-ripened peaches from a farm to grocery stores within 24 hours of harvest — a feat yet to be available at scale for U.S. growers. The flight test served as a crucial step in reducing time and touch points between farms and consumers, said the companies.
The Giumarra Companies was founded in 1922 and is an international network of fresh produce growers, distributors, and marketers. Products packed under the company’s Nature’s Partner label must meet strict standards for food safety, quality control, and flavor.
“To call this program groundbreaking is an understatement. We believe autonomous aircraft will transform the future of the fresh-produce industry,” stated Tim Riley, president of the Giumarra Cos. “This test proved the technology is viable and will evolve how we bring products to market by enabling us to deliver fresher, riper fruit anywhere in the country, including remote food deserts, at speeds never before seen.”
Reliable Robotics was launched by SpaceX and Tesla veterans and raised $33.5 million in August 2020. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company has been developing autonomous flight technology that it claims will enable safer, more convenient, and more affordable transportation of goods and eventually people.
Reliable Robotics sees autonomous cargo on the horizon
Historically, domestic air transport for produce has not been an economically viable transportation option, said the partners. Autonomous aircraft makes this possible and could provides greater access to delivery sites, including small municipal airports in underserved areas.
Reliable Robotics achieved fully autonomous flight on the Cessna 172 Skyhawk without an onboard pilot in 2019. With this most recent milestone, the company completed an automated flight between two airports, 200 miles apart, this time with an engineer and pilot on board for safety assurance.
The company has also demonstrated automated landing of the larger Cessna 208 Caravan and is in the process of certifying its automation platform for use on the Caravan, a popular cargo plane ideal for air shipments of produce.