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Dinner’s in the drone with Manna’s 5G-powered food delivery

Manna 5G drone delivery.
(Image credit: Manna / Flipdish)

Drone delivery has captured the imagination of a number of companies over the last 12 months, with the likes of Google, Amazon, and Uber Eats all testing what drones could one day be capable of. But Irish startup Manna – as in, from heaven – wants to go beyond the concept stage, and has taken one step closer to realizing that aim.

By partnering with Cubic Telecom, another Irish company, Manna hopes that it will be able to keep its devices connected using 5G, which will enable operators and customers to track deliveries, identify potential problems, and know exactly when food has been delivered.  

They're going to love it

According to the Manna website, it is using “custom-developed aerospace grade drones”, which it hopes will deliver directly from restaurants and centralised kitchens to consumer's homes. “We fly at an altitude of 80 metres and a speed of over 80kph -  delivering within a 2km radius in less than 3 minutes.,” the website claims. 

"The risk is going to be hearts and minds. What does society think of what we're doing with the airspace?" said Manna Chief Executive Bobby Healy in an exclusive interview. "I have no doubt they're going to love it."

Testing the tech

Manna is currently testing its technology at a facility in Pontypool in Wales, with plans to launch into three regions in Ireland, and one in England, by the third quarter of 2020. Manna hopes it will be able to charge $1 per drone delivery, and to ensure that drones can stay airborne long enough to make the business profitable, each one will carry three batteries, enabling five deliveries per hour.

Thanks to more lenient regulations at the time of writing, the UK and Ireland are ideal places to trial, and potentially introduce drone-based delivery services. And in December Manna closed a successful seed funding round of $5.2m.

Dan is a British journalist with 20 years of experience in the design and tech sectors, producing content for the likes of Microsoft, Adobe, Dell and The Sunday Times. In 2012 he helped launch the world's number one design blog, Creative Bloq. Dan is now editor-in-chief at 5Gradar, where he oversees news, insight and reviews, providing an invaluable resource for anyone looking to stay up-to-date with the key issues facing 5G.