Manna, an Irish drone delivery startup, announced today that it has added $3 million to its seed funding, led by Dynamo VC. This brings the total seed round raised by Manna to $5.2 million.
Manna plans to start with food deliveries in rural Ireland in March 2020, when it will work with restaurants and dark kitchens to deliver food across a two kilometer radius in as little as three minutes. Manna’s drones don’t fly higher than 500 ft and use a biodegradable linen string to lower food deliveries at their destinations. Manna has a partnership with food delivery service Flipdish, and will add on a fee of three to four euros for each delivery.
The skies are definitely getting more crowded, and 2020 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for drone delivery around the globe. Google has been testing drone delivery in Australia and recently started in here in the U.S. in Virginia. Uber Eats will officially kick off drone delivery in San Diego next summer. Amazon had promised its own drone delivery “within months,” though that was months ago at this point, so it’s safe to assume it’s been pushed into the new year. Fling is doing drone delivery in Thailand and, earlier this year, Zomato successfully tested its own drone program in India.
But drones still have quite a few hurdles to overcome before they become an everyday occurance. First, drones typically have a negative connotation with the general public, who can associate them with big, bad things like war and surveillance, or more minor inconveniences like the irritating buzz of a hobbyist flying them in a park.
Then there are the legal and safety issues surrounding fleets of drones flying overheard. There are startups like Airspace Link, which provides FAA clearance and flight paths to avoid ground risks, but federal, state and local governments are all grappling with how to regulate an entirely new category of commercial flight and all the complications that brings.
Manna founder Bobby Healy told The Irish Times that he thinks the Irish market will need up to 4,000 drones, with a drone doing five deliveries an hour. He estimates the UK market would need roughly 44,000 drones.