Goldman Sachs predicts that a $100+ billion market opportunity for drones will exist until 2020 – and that’s not just for military usage.

The aviation sector is clearly an attractive market capable of drawing in young entrepreneurial teams from across the world, such as the German startup AIRTEAM – an aerial intelligence platform that uses drone and satellite data in order to rapidly measure, map and inspect properties – and San Francisco-based Skycart – a German startup building the UAE‘s first ever autonomous drone delivery service.

At CUBE Tech Fair, some of the world’s most forward-thinking drone experts will present user cases. We talked with one of the experts, Yariv Bash, Co-Founder and CEO of Flytrex. Flytrex is ushering in the next generation of on-demand delivery, enabling any business, from SMBs to e-commerce giants, to integrate same-day autonomous drone delivery into their offering

But what really makes Flytrex so special? And how are drones going to develop in the near future? Maren Lesche interviewed Bash to gain some insights into his motivations and the industry as a whole.

Maren: Nice to meet you, Yariv. Tell me a bit about yourself. How did you become interested in the tech industry? Did you have an idol you looked up to?

Yariv Bash: My grandfather played a crucial role in my interest in technology and aviation. When I was a child, he would buy me do-it-yourself engineering kits, and we would sit together for hours assembling engines and working on projects. He instilled a love of technology and engineering in me and played a crucial role in my career path.

How did you come up with the idea for Flytrex?

Using our respective expertise, Amit, my co-founder, and I actually initially began selling “black boxes” for drones – similar to the black boxes in commercial airlines. These boxes provided real-time geo-trafficking and flight path sharing. When we realized that drones are going to be the future of on-demand delivery, with consumer expectations for faster and faster deliveries constantly rising, we saw an opportunity. Drones could offer the perfect solution. With this in mind, we shifted direction and began focusing on developing the ideal autonomous drone delivery service that would enable any retailer to provide on-demand deliveries and compete with the e-commerce giants.

Why drones? What makes them innovative?

Widespread commercial drone use was once considered science fiction. However, as technology has improved, we have pushed the boundaries of what is perceived as possible. Drones are set to become a core component of countless industries.

In terms of on-demand delivery, drones are able to tackle several challenges simultaneously. Drones are faster and can facilitate same-hour delivery: consumers can receive items in a matter of minutes. In addition to drastically cutting delivery times, they also slash costs, as they are far more efficient to operate than delivery bikes or other last-mile services.

Moreover, as drones are 100% electric, they substantially reduce emissions. And if that isn’t enough, they are also far safer than traditional delivery options – reducing road congestion without being dependent on error-prone drivers. Our advanced navigation systems mean drones can maneuver around large obstacles such as cityscapes. As the tech improves, drone safety will also improve.

What does a drone delivery look like today?

Drone delivery today is just beginning. There are specific regions that have approved autonomous drone deliveries, and these projects are vital in demonstrating the widespread viability of commercial drones – from a regulatory perspective as well as acceptance by the general public.

In Reykjavik, Iceland, our drones fly at roughly 70 meters in the air, meaning they are out of sight to any pedestrian, and don’t add to noise pollution. The drone system allows direct delivery between two parts of the city separated by a large river, saving energy and human resources normally allocated to the circuitous ground route over a river bridge located in the south of the city.

Our system requires an employee of AHA – our partner in Iceland and a local leader in e-commerce – to simply load a package onto a drone and click a button on the Flytrex platform. The drone automatically flies off to a designated landing area close to customers. Under the current model, another AHA staff member collects the package from the drone at the gathering point, and delivers it to the customer in that neighborhood. Flytrex is improving upon this system daily and has plans to begin lowering packages via a cable directly to consumers’ backyards, making drone deliveries even more efficient. In this
model, Flytrex’s user-friendly software allows customers to track their delivery drone through an easy-to-use app.

What are some of the challenges the drone industry is expecting to face in the future?

The primary challenge is proving to regulators that widespread adoption of drone deliveries is possible. This challenge, however, also presents an important opportunity: ultimately, it will be the regulators’ stamp of approval that will help usher in the era of commercial drones.

That said, general awareness poses another challenge. People have an inherent fear of the unknown, and drones represent something that has never been done before. Getting society to accept drones as a viable form of delivery will be key to ensuring their broader implementation.

Managing drone traffic will also be an obstacle. As commercial drones become more prominent, an important milestone will be a universal air traffic management system that will keep track of all the drones in the air, and ensure they are on-course and functioning correctly.

If you could give one piece of advice to other startups, what would that be?

The sky is not the limit – think big, validate your idea, and push forward like crazy.

Thank you for a great interview Yariv!

You can hear Yariv speak at the 11:15 am panel on May 16th on the Cube Stage together with Mohammed Johmani, CEO of SPACE and Kay Wackwitz, CEO of Drone Industry Insights. If you want to attend, please use the code CTFVIP2018 for free access to the conference.

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