Success! You're on the list.

Success! You're on the list.

Drone startup co-founded by a political refugee lifts $4M funding to deliver sushi and smoothies within 4 minutes

Flyby Robotics
Flyby Robotics

The versatility of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) has led to their increased popularity in various industries. 

The delivery industry is no exception! 

In recent years, the drone industry has witnessed a significant increase in demand for drone delivery services, owing to their fast and efficient mode of transportation. 

The delivery capabilities of drones have been demonstrated in several trials across the globe. 

One such company that made it into the headlines recently for delivering food items including Smoothies is Flyby Robotics. 

Raised $4M 

Flyby Robotics, an end-to-end drone automation and delivery company, has secured $4 million in seed funding led by Mac Venture Capital.

Other investors who participated in the round include Weekend Fund, Anthemis, Evening Fund. Other strategic investors include Naval Ravikant, (Co-Founder of AngelList also backed Quell); Balaji Srinivasan, (Finance and former CTO of Coinbase); Karen Pritzker, Gaingels, Ryan Hoover (Founder at Product Hunt); and Cliff Sirlin (Managing Director at LaunchCapital).  

The funding announcement comes alongside their pilot launch and a series of active partnerships with food retailers and innovative snack brands across the US, including 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 can order drone delivery for just $3, and experience delivery times averaging under 4 minutes through a package deployment system, which gently winches products down from a hovering drone to customers’ doorsteps. 

Flyby Robotics will use the funds towards product development to achieve Level 4 autonomy for Flyby’s flight systems. 

From curiosity to reality

Image credits: Flyby Robotics

Flyby was established through a collaboration between Jason Lu and Cat Orman in 2020, who initially met as students at Yale. 

With a shared curiosity and interest in exploring the practical implementation of drone technology, they assembled a team of skilled engineers from Yale, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and Anduril. 

The two ultimately realised that UAV technology had the potential to deliver food to people at an economic and environmental price point, offering faster fulfillment while reducing costs for both merchants and customers. 

Thus Flyby was born.

Unlocking the Potential of UAV

Flyby was created to unlock the labor-saving potential of UAV technology for every retail merchant to bring faster (within 4 minutes) and more affordable ($3 fee) than car-based courier systems to food delivery.

Notably, Flyby is the first drone delivery service in a major transportation hub: LA and soon Las Vegas. It is also the first fully integrated and turnkey-automated drone delivery solution for merchants.

Flyby’s roadmap

Image credits: Flyby Robotics

Flyby’s drones are currently operating at Level 3 autonomy, and the company is making progress toward achieving Level 4 autonomy. 

At Level 3, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are capable of operating independently for most tasks, but have a backup system that enables human intervention in exceptional circumstances. 

At Level 4, the human operator’s role is limited to verifying high-level mission parameters, as the drone executes the flight autonomously.

In addition to their technological advancements, Flyby has launched a pilot program in Phoenix, Arizona, with plans to expand to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Arkansas by the end of this year. 

In fact, the Center for Smart Cities and Regions at Arizona State University is partnering with Flyby to support its efforts to advance Phoenix’s smart region vision.

At present, the company’s notable supporters include: 

  • Mayor Giles of Mesa, AZ 
  • Mayor Ortega of Scottsdale, AZ 
  • Michael Sherwood, Chief Innovation Officer at the City of Las Vegas The NorthWest Arkansas Council 
  • Arizona State University’s Center for Smart Cities & Regions 
  • LA DOT’s Urban Mobility Labs, among others.

Currently, the company employs 10 people, a mix of women and men of all backgrounds.

Related Posts

Get daily funding news briefings in the tech world delivered right to your inbox.

Enter Your Email
join our newsletter. thank you