Drone deliveries arrive in a new Texas suburb with Manna Expansion

The drone delivery business is becoming more competitive in at least some Texas suburbs as Irish startup Manna plans to launch test flights in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

When exactly operations will start is not yet clear, as the company first needs approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration, Manna said on Thursday. Once achieved, the company will be able to deliver meals, drinks and small packages to 10,000 people living near the metro area, it said. The plan includes a partnership with real estate developer Hillwood and covers a delivery area of ​​27,000 acres.

“We will start with a single hub of less than 10 drones and expand our footprint as needed,” said Manna Chief Executive Bobby Healy. “This will be a smaller, less advanced version of our European operations, but we will demonstrate that our technology, vehicles and operations are safe and generally compliant with US regulations.”

The expansion plan will bring new air delivery options to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Wing, a division of Google parent Alphabet, operates drone deliveries in Little Elm and Frisco, Texas. An Israel-based competitor, Flytrex, operates nearby in Granbury. Amazon, whose Prime Air service pioneered the idea of ​​drone delivery, chose College Station further south for its Texas trials.

Drone delivery service remains uncommon, but expect that to diminish as companies scramble for the best way to transport medicine, snacks, groceries and power tools overhead. Drone deliveries promise to be faster than truck deliveries and emit less carbon. They also promise not to make traffic congestion worse. However, for the technology to be widely successful, companies must overcome technical, cost, regulatory approval, security, privacy and noise issues.

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Other states with drone delivery tests include California, Virginia, Ohio, Georgia, Utah, North Carolina and Arkansas.

Another competitor, Zipline, unveiled a new drone design on Wednesday that addresses the noise issue by keeping the drone 330 feet off the ground. The drones use a cable to lower packages housed in a module called a droid, whose propellers can steer it to a precise landing point.

Manna also said Thursday that Coca-Cola has invested in the company. It has now raised a total of $40 million.