The Flytrex Sky is a high-end commercial drone which comes complete with a ‘loading bay’ for small items such as drinks or light packages. But more importantly it also has 3G connectivity, and is designed to work with a cloud-based backend that makes delivering parcels possible, right out of the box.
Sky users will be able to unpack the drone and immediately send deliveries to “friends and family” using an Android and iOS app, Flytrex says, simply by directing it to a waypoint using GPS. The Sky platform has “ground-breaking Collaborative Piloting technology”, Flytrex says, which means the sender and recipient can control it at different points along a route. The sender can direct its initial course, while the recipient can take over for landing so as to ensure a soft touchdown.
Flytrex CEO Yariv Bash, who is also the co-founder of non-profit Israeili space disrupters SpaceIL, said that the drone would open the skies to private entrepreneurs and inventive individuals. And while Bash said that the drone did not “currently” have any obstacle detection — which will be crucial in urban areas — he said those features were planned for future updates.
“We plan for the drone to have environmental awareness,” he told WIRED. “Both for terrain and man made structures. This will be a firmware upgrade in the next few months. The Flytrex Sky is capable of preforming firmware upgrade from the cloud, thus this will be a pretty easy to install upgrade.”
Flytrex also plans to launch an API in the future that would make custom apps and even games built on its system possible. But the company has bigger ambitions too. “What we are seeing here are the first steps in making the physical equivalent of the internet — moving physical objects from point to point, via routing points. It will take a few years, and Flytrex has a complete roadmap from today to a “Skynet”-like future,” Bash said.
Making that happen depends as much on the backend as the actual drones themselves. “Currently, the flight times of consumer drones are lacking behind what we’d like to see. The technology is getting there, but more of in a linear way than an exponential growth,” he said. “On the other hand, the smartphone revolution has made the needed electronics for a smart flying machine pretty cheap and much more accessible. But as those drones become smarter and more connected, you’ll need a lot more backend platform to support all the real time activity. We’ve spent a lot of time and effort on developing our Sky platform – a scalable cloud-based platform, to enable seamless real-time control of drones while in the air.”
Although Flytrex “urges its customers to use Sky in accordance with their national aviation authority regulations”, the system does not include built-in protections to stop users using it as they see fit.
“As always, the regulations are lagging behind technology,” Bash said. “And as always, technology will prevail. We see the Flytrex Sky as a first step towards drone deliveries. The drone industry is where the car industry was in the beginning of the 20th century, there’s still much more to learn. We recommend that users follow the guidelines and regulations of their national aviation authority and above all — fly safely.”
The Flytrex Sky drone can also be piloted directly using the Flytrex Pilot app, which uses a virtual control (or an autopilot-directed GPS system) to let users move the drone across a map. Flytrex says it has a range of about seven miles for a package about the weight of a smartphone, and add it will take parcels up to 1kg for shorter distances. It has an accuracy of 2-3 metres, and a flight time of 32 minutes.
The drone also features:
- Stored flight data, logged to a “secure Flytrex profile”
- Built-in 3G tracking and “range free connectivity” to ensure the drone can be located at all times
- Auto-return feature to bring the Sky back to a designated point after or during a delivery
- Dual-battery and GoPro ready