Israeli Startup Unveils Universal “Mailbox” for Drone Delivery

After more than a decade of testing drone technologies for commercial use, an Israeli company believes its universal drone “mailbox” will help retailers deliver their orders to homes in urban areas in a safe way.

“We are not trying to invent, but to solve, in the sense that we have developed the only intelligent system that offers a solution for any type of drone to deliver packages to residences in deposit or post boxes,” he told The Algemeiner Niv Aharoni, co-founder and CEO of Strix Drones.

The Strix system is device agnostic, he added, meaning “that the system can communicate with any type of drone around the worldso that if you order from different companies, you can continue to receive the merchandise in the same way”.

Drone delivery has been pursued since at least 2013, when Amazon founder Jeff Bezos unveiled his vision for package delivery by air. In June, the company announced that a long-delayed drone project will get underway in Lockeford, California later this year. Drone delivery has generally been limited to smaller citieswhere the terrain is less dense and packages can be left in residents’ yards.

Making commercial use more viable still faces a number of technical hurdles, including the challenge of safely dropping packages from the sky to the ground.

Strix Drones was founded in 2019 as a manufacturer of drone docking stations for the Israeli army, located on the border with the Gaza Strip, before beginning to develop systems for the commercial drone market.

“Over the last two years, we have seen a lot of demand for point-to-point commercial drone delivery of boxes, and the question we are asking ourselves is what will happen in the last meter, and what will be the best and safest way to release a package? Aharoni recounted.

Aharoni noted that many drone package release solutions use a winch system for release, which some consider unsafe. Strix Drones docking station and capsule are deployed on the groundeven on the roofs of buildings, where they can function as a “gas station” for cars, he said.

In recent weeks, Strix has introduced a street delivery box that can interact with all sorts of drones, to receive goods ranging from medical supplies to takeout sushi in urban settings with tall buildings. The autonomous system can program the drones to deliver packages from pickup points to docking stations, where they can be loaded without human contact. Upon landing, recipients receive an alert from the app, and when the boxes arrive they are automatically opened for collection.

In June, Strix tested its system in the southern Israeli city of Yeruham as part of the public-private National Drone Initiative led by the Israel Innovation Authority and carried out in collaboration with the Israel Innovation Authority. Israeli Ministry of Transport, the Civil Aviation Authority and Ayalon Highways Ltd.

The company plans to test grocery delivery with a local retailer this summer.and then place docking stations in areas of the central Israeli city of Modiin.

Daniella Partem, director of the Israel Innovation Authority’s Israel Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, noted that one of the main challenges facing the drone industry today is making the service economically viable.

This test [en Yeruham] shows the potential of drone-based business solutions and it is one more step towards creating a viable economic model,” Partem told The Algemeiner. “We are promoting the creation of a nationwide infrastructure for the use of drones for delivery and many different use cases in a competitive market for more drone companies to collaborate with each other.”

“The next phase is heavier weights, longer distances, and maybe even drone taxis in urban areas one day,” he added.

Strix has manufacturing facilities in Israel and, more recently, in the US state of Ohio.

“Right now we are building the facilities in Dayton, and in two months we are going to start manufacturing in the United States, since we have orders from companies,” Aharoni said.

One of the clients is a multimillion-dollar transport company dedicated to the long-distance delivery of items such as blood tests, breast milk or organs to hospitals, which until now used helicopters for its services.

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