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Future of ‘logistics will be in the air’

Dubai-based company says road transport will be replaced by drones

Gulf News

Dubai: The commercial drones market is undergoing a similar evolution that the aircraft and cars have undergone in the last 100 years, said a company head.

Mohammed Johmani, founder of Dubai-based Space Autonomous Drones, which aims to use drones for door-to-door delivery, told Gulf News that the evolution of drones will be faster as the technology is better than 100 years ago.

By 2022, he said the future of logistics will be in the air. Just like aircraft replaced shipments by sea, road transport will be replaced by drones.

“We are going to do delivery tests with two pf our partners - one government entity and one private – between November and December. We are waiting for approvals from GCAA and TRA,” he said.

“Our drones are not a toy. Ours have a frequency and it is like a helicopter. First, we have to take TRA’s approval for frequency measures and then go to GCAA. The approval for autonomous drones is known as ‘blanket approval’ to fly unlimited number of times per day,” he said.

Till now, he said that the blanket approval for drones does not exist in the UAE and it is only available in Switzerland, Japan, the US and the UK.

Self-flying taxi

Amazon has got the approval for its delivery service.

“We don’t expect it to become a reality before nine months. There will lot or rules and restrictions from both the government entities and we need to follow it strictly,” he said.

However, he said that the good news is that RTA has tested the world’s first self-flying taxi to shuttle passengers across the city without a pilot.

“Because I am a Dubai-based company I hope to get the approval fast. Our drones can carry a weight of five kilos for a distance of 10km. TRA and GCAA will not give approval for more than 10km.

“Even if they give approval, we are not in a situation to pump more money into this and we are seeking a seed funding of $1 million. Investors in this region are very sceptical about investing in drones,” he said.

Akash Balachandran, research analyst at IDC Middle East and Africa, said that there is still a long way to go for the drones to be used for standard deliveries.

“The bottle neck isn’t necessarily the development of the technology, but it will be the creation and execution of local and international regulation related to drone delivery services,” he said.

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