People in the UAE could soon receive their online shopping via autonomous drone delivery service if everything goes according to the plans of Space Autonomous Drones, a new Dubai company created as a result of partnership between UAE-based tech company Eniverse Technologies and San Francisco-based drones maker Skycart as announced on Tuesday. Currently seeking legal approval from the Dubai government, Space Autonomous Drones estimates the launch of the service to be "between 2018 and 2019," and expresses confidence in a statement that “it will fulfill all the legal criteria and kickstart operations ahead of schedule.”
Once launched, Space Autonomous Drones’ technology will enable shipping of products weighing 5 kgs or less to locations across Dubai in "30 minutes or less." The drones, which will run with a proprietary mobile application, will allow users to track and manage their orders as well. “We have already manufactured and tested the drones in San Francisco, and done a full operational test with Swiss Post in Switzerland, and in September , we are conducting first delivery test in Dubai, aiming at getting the regulation approvals to start operations between March and September 2018,” notes Mohammed Johmani, CEO, Eniverse Technologies, and founder, Space Autonomous Drones, speaking about the plans for launch. Johmani says the company plans to price the solution between AED10-15 per delivery, while traditional deliveries usually cost up to AED25. “This shows you the economics of the concept in comparison to the traditional delivery methods,” he adds.
As industry reports estimate the demand for drone technology in the Gulf region to reach over US$1.5 billion by 2022, Space Autonomous Drones aims to capture a part of this market by collaborating with established companies that would be interested in the tech such as Emirates Post, DHL, Aramex, and others, for smart drones shipping solutions. Johmani says the growing e-commerce industry in the MENA region, gives them “an integration opportunity” with companies like Souq.com, for instance. “Souq at the moment uses more than 200 bikes to deliver their items to their customers in Dubai alone, which has a high operational cost attached to it from Salik, to fuel and drivers associated costs; Space Autonomous drones will cut these costs to almost zero, hence we are actually creating a new market and category in the logistics industry,” he says.
As part of the partnership, the US-based Skycart will bring its drones experience and technology to the UAE, while Eniverse (a company that prides itself on “incept[ing] ideas that become successful businesses") will “draw the operational structure of Space Autonomous Drones,” to meet all regulatory requirements of the UAE.
With the UAE’s emphasis on Smart City initiatives, and with governmental entities such as RTA and Dubai Future Accelerator using technology to improve quality of living for Dubai residents (for instance RTA’s autonomous air taxi, which was tested in June 2017, and is set to start the trial operation soon), Johmani is confident that “Dubai -through its Dubai 10X program and Dubai Future Accelerators- will realize the potential of the autonomous drones, and its positive impact on Dubai’s economy.” Here’s hoping to catch soon the drones in action in the UAE skies!