Delivery drones may soon no longer be a thing of the future, as Drone Delivery Canada (DDC) is set to begin testing its drones with customers in the first quarter of 2017. Similar tests are already happening in Europe and this is not the first run of similar tests in the Americas. DDC is expanding its tests – which currently include the Waterloo region – to Foremost Alberta. The addition of the Foremost region will give the company 700 square nautical miles, about 927 square miles, of restricted airspace up to 18,000 feet above sea level to test within.
The announcement that DDC had reached the formal agreement with Transport Canada was made via the company's press release page on January 10th of this year. It marks the first formal agreement of this type to be made between Transport Canada – the governing agency for transportation regulation and policy in Canada – and any drone delivery company. Importantly, the tests being conducted at Foremost are intended to advance DDC along the path to becoming certified with compliant operator status. The status is required if the company wants to meet its goals for bringing the platform to a range of areas across Canada, including the difficult to reach northern regions. Moreover, it is an opportunity to truly test the drone delivery platform that DDC has built under more real-world circumstances. The tests themselves are to include testing of the company's beyond visual line of sight capabilities. This covers the ability of the delivery drones to operate primarily using guidance satellites and possibly other methods of guidance since the drones will be mostly on their own once they leave the line of sight of the launch area. Such capabilities are a requirement for the up-and-coming drone delivery industry since line-of-sight can not be guaranteed under all circumstances.
Tests with existing DDC customers will begin during Q1 of 2017. The mayor of Foremost, Ken Kultgen, has also voiced his excitement. Kultgen has said that he is "delighted that Drone Delivery Canada will be testing at the Foremost UAS Range." Kultgen went on to express that the tests are an integral part of bringing the "innovative technology" to all Canadians. If the tests go well, the company hopes to have expanded the commercial roll out of its drone delivery logistics platform. DDC currently offers warehouse to warehouse services and warehouse to consumer services and that continued roll out has been scheduled to begin between late 2017 and early 2018.