Staples developing commercial drone delivery service with Vaughan-based firm

Commercial drone delivery could arrive sooner than you think, if the Canadian arm of Staples Inc. has its way.

On Tuesday, the office supply giant announced that it was collaborating with Vaughan, Ont.-based firm Drone Delivery Canada (DDC) to develop, implement, and commercialize a drone delivery service.

In a Nov. 29 statement Mike Bhaskaran, executive vice president of Staples’ supply chain division, said the company was confident that investing in drone technology would improve its ability to rapidly meet customer needs.

“We’re always testing new ways we can improve our supply chain capabilities and are encouraged by the potential of drone technology,” he said.

DDC CEO Tony Di Benedetto, meanwhile, called the deal “transformational” for his company, which in October received a Special Flight Operating Certificate (SFOC) authorizing test flights of its drone technology.

Launched in 2015, DDC claims to be the first and only drone logistics company in Canada. It has not yet revealed other commercial partners, though in his statement Di Benedetto said other potential customers began “accelerating their dialogue” with the company after its technology received Transport Canada’s blessing. It also announced a drone delivery pilot program with the city of Vaughan back in April.

“We are experiencing great traction and are expecting more contract wins in Q4 and Q1 of 2017,” Di Benedetto said in the Nov. 29 statement.

DDC said it will begin testing its drones in southern Ontario, followed by tests in Foremost, Alta. and Alma, Que., according to the company. Neither DDC nor Staples mentioned a planned or potential release date for the office supply chain’s delivery service.

Staples is not the first retailer to begin testing a drone delivery system in Canada: Taking advantage of our country’s more relaxed airspace laws, Amazon has been reportedly using a secret site in British Columbia to test drones for its U.S. operations since at least 2015.

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Eric Emin Wood
Eric Emin Wood
Former editor of turned consultant with public relations firm Porter Novelli. When not writing for the tech industry enjoys photography, movies, travelling, the Oxford comma, and will talk your ear off about animation if you give him an opening.

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