What came first, the drone or the smart mailbox?
“On the one hand, you can’t have drone deliveries without the drones, but you also can’t have drone deliveries without a place to make the delivery,” said Dan O’Toole, a serial entrepreneur and chairman and CEO at Dronedek.
As O’Toole explains, while drone delivery will increase efficiency, lower costs, raise convenience and enhance speed, that is only half the equation. Logistics is the other.
“To complete the delivery ecosystem, you need a safe, secure and weatherproof receptacle capable of holding your delivery and notifying you of its arrival or pick-up,” he adds.
This is where Dronedek comes into play. Positioned to be a mailbox made for the 21st century, the Dronedek is a smart, app-driven solution for secure drone package receiving and storage. With the system, drones deliver the package into a secure Dronedek mailbox.
“Someday soon, all your purchases will be delivered by drone, whether that be an aerial craft, a driverless vehicle or an autonomous robot,” O’Toole said. “One thing they’ll all have in common is the endpoint that is Dronedek.”
The company holds a first-position patent portfolio that includes everything from interior temperature control to facial recognition and solar panel charging. This versatility means the smart mailboxes can be designed to accept all types of deliveries and pick-ups, including food, parcels, medical supplies and even traditional mail.
“We’re taking a platform-agnostic approach to consolidate and funnel pick-ups and deliveries from all carriers, couriers and logistics services to set, GPS-verified locations,” O’Toole said. “More so, each unit is compatible with the spectrum of delivery service methods, meaning you won’t need a different mailbox to accept different types of deliveries.”
Reduction starts with automation
It was Dronedek’s versatility that first caught the attention of Speedy Eats, a company developing mobile kitchens capable of providing fast, autonomous bites. The facilities are giant vending machines where robots build the meals. Customers drive up and pick up the food using a QR code.
“Speedy Eats aims to be a pizza restaurant that cost half the amount of a traditional brick and mortar store but has four to five times the profit margin,” said company founder and CEO Frederick ‘Speed’ Bancroft.
The company’s secret? Reduction.
“Our model reduces three of a big chain’s main margin lines: rent, energy and payroll,” Bancroft said.
As to the first two, the Speedy Eats kiosk is designed to be installed in as little as 1,000 square meters of space.
“Simply install your unit in a parking lot or mall, plug it in and start cranking out fresh-baked pies,” Bancroft said.
The company’s focus on automation is what allows it to reduce, if not nearly eliminate, payroll. As Bancroft explains, each unit consists of a fridge, oven, packaging station and warmer. In total, each unit can accommodate up to 96 pre-topped, pre-baked pizzas at a time.
Once an order comes in, either via a mobile app or the unit’s built-in touchscreen, the selected pie automatically moves to the oven where it is heated. When fully cooked, it moves on to packaging, where the pizza is secured in a covered takeout box (which even features an embedded slicer) and then placed into the warmer to wait for pick-up.
From kiosk to Dronedek by air
In its current prototype, the pick-up will happen either directly by the customer or through a third-party delivery platform like Door Dash or Uber Eats. But, thanks to its partnership with Dronedek, this will soon be expanded to include aerial drones.
“The Speedy Eats warmer is designed so a drone can collect an order via a tether and take it to the designated Dronedek using geospatial coordinates,” Brancroft explains.
O’Toole adds: “Once the drone arrives, the Dronedek’s top opens, the pizza is lowered by a tether and, once secured, the customer is notified that their order is ready for pick-up. Even if the customer can’t pick the order up immediately, no problem, the Dronedek can function as a warmer.”
Because the Dronedek is designed to accommodate different types of deliveries, it can also be used to accept those made by third-party providers. When the driver arrives, they will enter or scan a barcode to open the Dronedek and place the order securely inside.
“The Dronedek is the perfect complement to the Speedy Eats concept,” Brancroft said. “It has a simple, intuitive design and a versatility that will not only prove to be a value add for Speedy Eats but, more importantly, for the total customer experience.”
The two companies aim to test a proof-of-concept that integrates the first Speedy Eats prototype with a Dronedek system later this year. Speedy Eats is also working with various drone companies to build out a landing pad and the other infrastructure needed to streamline the autonomous pick-up and delivery process.