Autonomous drones could be coming to Waterloo Region after new tech partnership
In this June 22, 2016, file photo, a drone aircraft flies during a ship-to-shore delivery simulation in Lower Township, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)
KITCHENER -- Move over, highways, because a new partnership in Waterloo Region could introduce its first roadway for the skies.
The Region of Waterloo has partnered with a commercial drone company to test a network of drone "skyways" that could lead to the use of drones for things like delivery.
AirMatrix, a Canadian company which specializes in designing air space routes, announced the partnership on Wednesday.
According to a news release, trials for the sky roads have begun with the delivery of medicine to long-term care facilities and homes. The company's website says that the skyways, or sky roads, are millimetre-precise, compared to most routes created with a GPS that have a six-metre error margin.
That means the operator can't fly the drone out of sight for fear of collision or injury.
The company says its technology allows one drone operator to control many autonomous drones remotely, instead of having a 1:1 ratio of operators to drones.
The company said that the first deliveries were facilitated by the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy, Hogan Pharmacy and the long-term care home company PeopleCare.
"With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, drone usage has accelerated further," said AirMatrix co-founder Shayaan Haider in the release.
"There has never been a better time to focus on innovative contactless services, like drone delivery, to stop the spread of the virus, as well as ensure those with mobility issues get the care they deserve."
The release said that other companies will be starting drone flights with the network in Waterloo Region over the next few weeks, allowing them to test their own uses like delivery, telecommunications and inspection.
"We’re interested to see the outcome of the testing AirMatrix has undertaken using their flight path technology," said Regional Chair Karen Redman in the release.
"The outcome of this work will help shape the drone ecosystem in our country in the future, which is why supporting a neighbouring start-up made sense for the Region."