Landmark approval edges Matternet's delivery drone toward everyday use
Startup Matternet has been operating at the edge of drone delivery technology for years, and has now taken an important step forward. The company’s M2 drone has received a Type Certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the first non-military drone to do so, which should help streamline its efforts to make drone delivery an accessible and everyday service.
Matternet has been on the scene for around a decade and its M2 drone has generated quite a bit of interest in drone delivery circles. We’ve seen Mercedes-Benz trial van concepts that deploy the aircraft from the roof, while Swiss Post has previously tested out deliveries with the aircraft, as have hospitals in the southern Swiss city of Lugano. In 2019, UPS also adopted the aircraft to trial the transport of medical supplies in North Carolina.
Those UPS trials were carried out with a Part 135 certification, which essentially acted as an exemption to the FAA’s strict rules around drone use and enabled the logistics company to expand its delivery trials. Meanwhile, the FAA has spent four years evaluating the safety of the M2 aircraft and its autonomous operations across thousands of flights in all kinds of conditions.
The Type Certification granted last week is yet another important step forward, and essentially approves the design of the aircraft for airworthiness, noise and emission standards. Matternet expects that the certification will make it far easier to gain regulatory approvals as it works to scale up its commercial drone operations.
"We are incredibly proud that Matternet M2 has met the very rigorous safety standards of the FAA and is the first drone delivery system to be Type Certified in the United States," said Andreas Raptopoulos, founder and CEO of Matternet. "Drone delivery will revolutionize healthcare and e-commerce in the US. We've been at the forefront of this revolution since launching US operations in 2019 – we are now ready for scale."
Source: Matternet (PDF)