In November 2013, not yet Thanksgiving, I had a craving for pumpkin pie. Always up for the latest trend, I pulled up a new app that had just made its way to New York City. Minutes later, Postmates delivered a pumpkin pie with a container of cool-whip right to my apartment door. My mind was blown. I was chided for this for weeks amongst my friends, “Katie you are absolutely ridiculous, you couldn’t go get your own pie.” (Soon after, I post-mated a pair of new sunglasses to my location when I realized I had forgotten mine, which they also wouldn’t let me live down.) Fast forward, I am sure to always remind my friends of my first-mover days, as delivery apps in urban areas are now woven into our daily lives.
Now almost 10 years later from that pumpkin pie, I am thrilled to be writing this blog to announce Anthemis’ Female Innovators Lab Fund investment into Flyby Robotics.
Flyby is building the first end-to-end automated drone delivery solution, unlocking the labor-saving potential of UAV technology for every merchant, delivering food and small pre-packaged goods to everyday consumers.
Flyby uses lightweight drones composed of off-the-shelf components with custom automation software that processes consumer orders. All flights are autonomous, but are monitored by FAA-certified commercial pilots. Flyby’s lightweight approach and integrated third-party ASTM F3322–18 certified parachutes enable Flyby drones to operate even in urban environments.
And for those ready to place an order, how does it work?
Customers download the Flyby app:
- A restaurant staffer loads the order onto the drone
- Flyby’s Citadel 2 autonomously plans a flight path to the user’s address using its integration with the restaurant’s native order management system
- A pilot from Flyby HQ presses a single button to execute Citadel 2’s flight path, and the drone takes off from the drone pad.
- The drone cruises to the customer’s location, arriving in under 3 minutes
- The drone descends to dropoff altitude, and Flyby’s winch system gently lowers the package to the customer
- he drone returns home and lands autonomously back on the drone pad.
The flyby hardware and software stack can also be seamlessly retrofitted to a wide variety of drone models, and their LTE-enabled tether delivery system can gently deliver 2.5 lbs up to 150 feet. Flyby is currently focused on delivering in areas with high population densities with houses and front yards, like Phoenix, where Flyby is now officially piloting deliveries.
The intersection of mobility and payments has opened up a world where people and goods can be efficiently moved from point A to point B at the click of a button. Payments infrastructure has underpinned a massive embedded finance opportunity across multiple sectors, including the $130bn global online food delivery market, which is expected to grow 14.5% annually between 2023 and 2030. Flyby provides faster fulfillment while reducing costs for merchants and consumers. With a growing need for more efficient, affordable, and eco-friendly delivery options, cities are looking for alternative mobility solutions. Consumers are increasingly expecting fast, seamless delivery of goods and services, and while retailers, restaurants, and grocers have invested in internal infrastructure, many still rely on third-party transportation networks for the very last mile, which results in high costs.
First live merchants include smoothies from Nekter Juice Bar, salad from MAD Greens, sushi from Tokyo Joe’s, and crunchy shiitake mushroom chips from Popadelics. During the live pilot, customers from participating retailers are able to order drone delivery for just three dollars and experience delivery times averaging under 4 minutes.
In the future, Flyby is looking to target densely built cities, which would benefit from reduced traffic and clean tech goals. As fintech and embedded finance investors, we know that climate change is impacting risk management for financial institutions not only in insurance underwriting, but also demonstrated in asset pricing, capital-intensive emission reduction, and revision to overall enterprise risk management frameworks.
Carnegie Mellon study found that drones can deliver small packages like food using 94% less energy and producing 84% lower carbon emissions than other vehicles (Aug 2022). Cornell study found that small electric quadcopter drones are up to 96% more energy-efficient than conventional last-mile delivery (Nov 2021). This RSG study on residential food delivery found that drones generated 26–28X lower carbon emissions than cars (March 2021). At Anthemis, we see solutions to reduce or mitigate climate change impact through mobility, food & agriculture, energy, urban planning, and supply chain & logistics as ways to tackle the upstream impact on financial institutions.
Finally, my favorite part of announcing investments — the team. Co-founders Jason Lu and Cat Orman launched the company out of their work at Yale, and have since recruited a stellar engineering team hailing from NASA, JPL, Google X and Anduril. At our every touchpoint, Jason and Cat have proven themselves not only to be visionaries, but true operators with laser-like focus as evidenced by their infrastructure, capital efficiency, speed and execution mindset. We’ve had the pleasure of witnessing their relentless focus over the past year and are beyond excited for Flyby’s launch and the journey ahead!