Drones deliver last mile products to Paris food market

The gigantic fresh produce wholesale market serving the Paris region got a taste of its technological future, thanks to a series of drone flights testing the viability of last mile product deliveries around the huge facility.

Located about 15 km from central Paris and neighboring Orly airport, Rungis International Market hosted 50 merchandise drone delivery test flights to remote parts of the complex – a glimpse of what Organizers think it will become a regular transportation option for ground vehicles. The operation was overseen by French startup DragonflyPads, which produces and supplies modular and mobile vertipad alternatives to large fixed-structure vertiports. The proof of concept effort was aimed at proving the viability of fast and safe last mile drone deliveries of a range of perishable goods, as well as urgent goods.

Given France’s unique relationship and cultural association with food – as well as the rich history of the wholesale market – it was far from certain that the introduction of new technology to Rungis’ menu would be welcome.

Rungis inherited the nickname “the belly of Paris” after being chosen at the end of the 1960s as the location for the relocation of the increasingly dilapidated Halles of central Paris (today the site of the increasingly dilapidated Center Pompidou ). In its current form, the market covers 578 acres and is home to 1,400 different businesses serving nearly 18 million end consumers, achieving $ 10.5 billion in business annually. It’s a lot of eggplants and White sausage.

Against the traditions and financial stakes involved, it was no wonder that DragonflyPads got a little fishy eye from fruit and meat vendors (not to mention seafood merchants) when the company arrived last week with her vertipad tied to a container. But once onlookers witnessed the efficient last mile drone deliveries of all manner of Rungis merchandise – along with champagne, a birthday cake, vehicle parts and medical supplies – skepticism lingered. dissipated.

“The proof of concept conducted by DragonFlyPads at the Rungis Market was a huge success and a real icebreaker,” the company announced on its LinkedIn page. “It was the first time that a vertiport was installed and operated in an urban environment. The POC was very complex because it took place on the Rungis international market which is located 3 km from Orly international airport and 15 km from downtown Paris. Every day, the market welcomes 20,000 trucks and more than 30,000 people.

The all-French trials – which obtained the required clearance from the country’s civil aviation administration – included drone services company Pilgrim Technology piloting both the Unisphere and Unifly UAV flights. These took off and landed from a DragonFlyPads mobile vertiport housed in a container. This is just one of the many types of adaptable concepts offered by the company to exploit “the existing underutilized real estate infrastructure … (with) all-inclusive turnkey mobile and ecological platforms allowing for landing, loading, letting. ‘maintenance and storage of drones and goods. . “

The president of the managing group Rungis, Stéphane Layani, was impressed by the performance of drones in last mile deliveries of market products.

“I am delighted with these first cargo flight tests, which suggest very interesting possibilities for last mile logistics within the market,” he said.

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