December 15th, 2021
Dan O’Toole thinks his company can help clear up the supply chain backlog that is slowing factory work nationwide and threatening the arrival of holiday gifts.
But the founder and CEO of Indianapolis tech startup Dronedek, which makes smart mailboxes capable of receiving all kinds of products via drones, needs federal regulators to take one critical step first.
“Drone delivery is a key part of the solution now and in the future. We just need federal regulators to get out of the way and let us start working,” O’Toole states.
There has been some movement toward enabling more widespread drone delivery in the U.S., but the process is not fast or comprehensive enough, he says.
Companies that build delivery drones are cheering a recent move by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to relax certain restrictions over use of the flying machines in public airspace, saying the move improves the regulatory environment for package delivery operations.
The agency said in a statement the new rules mark “the next step in the FAA’s incremental approach to integrating unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system.” The process had begun when the FAA announced last December that it had relaxed its requirement for special waivers to allow the use of small drones “at night or over people.”
Despite the action, O’Toole said the still slow progress means the drone industry “is dying of a thousand paper cuts.”
O’Toole knows something about moving quickly.
Earlier this year, Dronedek – which was founded in 2019 – announced it is moving into an expanded headquarters in Indy at 4423 Shadeland Ave. and will grow its operations by hiring 85 people by 2025. That announcement came on the heels of a successful debut of its product at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Dronedek’s patented mailbox is capable of accepting a delivery from a drone and then storing the package securely – and keeping its content hot or cold. The mailbox can hold a variety of packages securely, including food and medication. Users, who are notified when a package arrives, use an app to open the mailbox for retrieval.
Dronedek is one of the first companies anywhere to focus on drone delivery for commercial and residential use. Its smart mailbox enables customers to fully automate their delivery process for the last mile. O’Toole secured patents for his mailbox ahead of the U.S. Postal Service and Amazon.
Now, O’Toole says he’s ready for the federal government to do its part.