Ford to test drone logistics in Canada

  • October 26, 2020
  • Steve Rogerson

Ford Motor is working with Drone Delivery Canada (DDC) and the University of Toronto’s Institute of Aerospace Studies (UTIAS) towards testing an automated drone as it tracks and lands on a moving ground vehicle within the flight arena.

“Foundational research infrastructure, coupled with world-class researchers, leads to ground-breaking discoveries,” said Ramin Farnood, the University of Toronto’s vice-dean of research. “With the support of the Canada Foundation for Innovation, our UofT engineering researchers can continue to be leaders in their field and make positive, vital contributions to our society and the economy.”

DDC is a drone technology company focused on the design, development and implementation of its proprietary logistics software platform, using drones. The platform will be used as a software as a service (SaaS) model for government and corporate organisations globally.

“As a clear leader in the drone logistics industry globally, we are pleased to be working with world-class organisations such as UTIAS and Ford to advance our technology and applications for drone delivery,” said Michael Zahra, CEO of DDC. “We continue to move the industry forward and these advances can create further commercial use cases for drone delivery. We have a proud history of R&D, which has resulted in unique and patented intellectual property and the successful commercialisation of our advanced logistics.”

Associate professor Steven Waslander from UTIAS added: “This work could greatly expand the applications quadrotor drones are useful for. The more advanced they become, the better they will be at inspecting infrastructure, search and rescue in remote environments, tracking moving objects for security, and delivering light-weight packages. We want to execute repeated landings on the moving vehicle, maintaining the relative position accuracy to within 10cm, even as the speed of the target vehicle increases.”

DDC has received a special flight operations certificate from Transport Canada for beyond visual line of sight commercial drone delivery for the Beausoleil First Nation Covid-19 operations, previously announced in June.

Beausoleil First Nation is using the company’s drone logistics to enable a defined two-way delivery flight route from and to BFN mainland to and from the BFN Christian Island using the Sparrow drone and its DroneSpot takeoff and landing zones. All operations will be conducted in accordance with the Canadian Aviation Regulations and Transport Canada flight authorisations. Flights will be monitored by DDC using its proprietary Flyte software as a managed service.