Partnership to speed production of drone delivery smart mailbox

Bruce Crumley – Nov. 26th 2021 5:08 am PT 


Drone and robotic delivery startup DRONEDEK is ramping up efforts to take its patented smart mailbox to market through a new agreement with India’s technology and innovation firm Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), covering production and global distribution rights.

Under the agreement, the two companies will work together in the design, development, manufacturing, and distribution of the DRONEDEK smart mailbox. The unit, for which the Indianapolis-based DRONEDEK company has filed or already been awarded 111 different patents, features an array of capabilities that allow reception and secure storage of deliveries from robotic, driverless, aerial drone, or human modes.

The smart mailboxes aim to protect customers awaiting goods or other deliveries from the estimated 1.7 million thefts of packages every day from homes and businesses across the US. DRONEDEK says robotic and drone delivery can cut last-mile transport by 50%, with UAVs 92% more operationally efficient – and thus less polluting – than conventional ground vehicles.

In addition to a slot for regular mail reception, DRONEDEK boxes have automatically opening tops to facilitate package deliveries from drones – which can recharge via induction if their battery levels drop too low for the return flight. 

Inside tech can scan QPR and bar codes to assure parcels have reached the right address, and will also detect explosives, biohazard, or other dangerous material. Inside temperature controls can keep food deliveries hot, or cold-requiring medicines cooled. DRONDEK contents can be accessed using a dedicated app or built-in biometric scanner.

The smart boxes are hardwired to the sidewalks, driveways, or other spots chosen for installation. They are hooked directly into electrical systems, while also providing power backup from solar panels on the lids.

DRONEDEK units are equipped with several security devices, including cameras and external alarms, and are capable of full communication with owners, driverless delivery cars, drones, and other robotic vehicles that have been pre-programmed with encrypted codes needed for access.

“We are consolidating all delivery to one point, including robotic, unmanned-driverless vehicle, aerial drone and conventional delivery, with our platform-agnostic safe, secure, smart mailbox,” says DRONEDEK founder and CEO Dan O’Toole.

Its agreement with BEL will allow DRONEDEK to move more swiftly from the conceptualization and development phase into production and distribution faster. The accord places the considerable development effort that went into the patented smart mailbox into BEL’s engineering, manufacturing, and distribution operations. 

“We are always raising the bar on our technical offerings, and we want to continue to be a company of firsts,” said Anandi Ramalingam, BEL’s chairman and managing director. “The DRONEDEK opportunity presents for BEL a new vertical in the changing landscape of worldwide, last-mile logistics – one in which we will be able to put a stake in the ground and build on.”

The companies are aiming for initial production in the second quarter of next year, gauging output of $50 million in anticipated purchase orders.

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