RattanIndia Enterprises Ltd. (“REL”) has decided to make a strategic investment* in US based Matternet, the world’s most extensive urban drone logistics platform. With this investment, REL has forayed into the deep-tech Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) industry, which is set to transform logistics ecosystems worldwide.
Matternet, based out of Silicon Valley counts Boeing, Mercedes-Benz, McKesson Ventures and Sony as investors.
Matternet was founded in 2011 by Andreas Raptopoulos, a global thought leader in the UAV industry and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Drones and Aerial Mobility Council. Matternet provides best-in-class technology for on-demand, autonomous aerial delivery in urban environments and has garnered more revenue to date than any other UAV company from its operations in the US and Switzerland.
The company is pioneering a paradigm shift in transportation and logistics by using emission-free drone technology to deliver items up to 2 kgs with precision over fixed routes over distances of 20 kms in a few minutes. These flights are Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) and Flight over People (FLOPS). All these deliveries are fully autonomous with remote monitoring from central control rooms. Globally, 80% of e-commerce parcels are under 2kgs, creating a large addressable market for Matternet UAV logistics platform.
Matternet currently provides its platform-as-a-service to companies in the fields of healthcare and logistics. Together with its partners Swiss Post, UPS and Japan Airlines (JAL), the company serves numerous hospitals and pharmacy chains such as CVS, WakeMed Hospital, Wake Forest Baptist Health, EOC Lugano and University of Zurich Hospital.
Matternet’s technology not only has been approved by government aviation regulators (equivalent to DGCA in India) but also has been deployed commercially for urban deliveries in developed countries such as the US and Switzerland. Matternet drones have flown more than 13,000 commercial revenue trips in the US and Switzerland.
Aside from healthcare services, UAVs have useful applications in areas such as e-commerce and food delivery. The precision of Matternet’s drone technology will prove to be extremely useful in developing countries like India, which have large urban agglomeration and ultra-high population density and congestion, making healthcare and e-commerce delivery by road time consuming and unreliable.
The Government of India realizes the immense economic potential of the drone industry and took a major step toward opening the market when it released Draft Drone Rules on 15 July 2021. The rules are intended to ensure the ease of using drones in India based on “trust, self-certification and non-intrusive monitoring.” Some key changes from the earlier Unmanned Aircraft System Rules released on 12 March 2021 include: a reduction in the number of required approvals, a shift to faster and paperless approvals, simpler processes, no restrictions on drone operations of foreign-owned companies, a reduction in limits for operations from the airport perimeter, and a reduction in fees. Furthermore, the government plans to establish “drone corridors” for cargo deliveries and a drone promotion council to facilitate a drone-friendly regulatory regime.
Anjali Rattan, Business Chairperson, RattanIndia Enterprises, said, “We are highly impressed with the team and credentials of Matternet. The partnership with Matternet is in line with our philosophy of investing in new age cleantech companies with tremendous growth potential. We share Government’s vision of Drone as a futuretech, which opens new vistas of business opportunities”.
Andreas Raptopoulos, CEO, Matternet, said, “We are witnessing an inflection point in urban drone delivery and are excited to partner with RattanIndia to explore opportunities in India,” said Andreas Raptopoulos, CEO of Matternet. “India is a country with numerous densely populated and congested cities, an ideal scenario for Matternet drones to bring greater reach, reliability and speed to healthcare and other everyday needs of the local population, while at the same time decreasing pollution and traffic.”
Matternet has developed best-in-class technology for on-demand, aerial delivery in urban environments. The company provides its technology platform-as-a-service to healthcare and logistics organizations. In March 2017, Matternet became the first company in the world to be authorized for commercial BVLOS operations of drone logistics networks over cities in Switzerland. In March 2019, Matternet and UPS announced a partnership to provide drone delivery services to US healthcare systems, with networks at WakeMed Health in NC and Wake Forest Baptist Health. In October 2019, Matternet’s technology enabled the first FAA-Approved Drone Airline in the US, UPS Flight Forward.