Drones taking to skies in Moose Cree nation: Drone delivery service expected to get underway this summer.

Author:Kelly, Lindsay

If all goes as planned, Stan Kapashesit is hopeful that a long-awaited drone service delivering goods between the communities of the Moose Cree First Nation (MCFN) could be up and running next summer.

Once operational, the innovative service will employ drones supplied by Drone Delivery Canada (DDC) to deliver medical supplies, mail, food, and other packages between Moosonee and Moose Factory Island, two communities located along the western coast of James Bay, about 315 kilometres north of Timmins and separated by the Moose River.

"I think people are watching and eager to learn about it more, and I'm certain the whole nation will be watching once it's fully implemented," said Kapashesit, MCFN's director of economic development.

The community and the Vaughanbased drone company signed a $2.5-million agreement in December 2018, following initial test deliveries of medical supplies using DDC's Sparrow drone, which the company reported were carried out "flawlessly."

Although the Sparrow is only capable of carrying a 10-pound payload, DDC's other models--Raven and Condor--can carry 25 pounds and 400 pounds, respectively, and the company is now working on a model that could carry up to 2,400 pounds.

Having drone delivery service is anticipated to enhance transportation logistics while reducing costs for the remote community.

Although earlier estimates suggested the service could be up and running in early to mid-2019, Kapashesit said there are still a few details to be worked out before it will be operational.

Currently, the community is working on securing the estimated $2.1 million in capital required to get the program up and running, which would include the construction of drone delivery depots and training for employees.

Applications have been submitted to Drone delivery service to be ready by summer provincial and federal funding agencies to get support for the unique project.

"In this instance, because the funding element is quite high--and, of course, we want to do our due diligence as well--we want to ensure what we're proposing to do is accurate, feasible, and can be self-sustaining in the long run," Kapashesit said.

MCFN has retained the services of NeXus Consulting Group, a management consulting firm at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, to fine-tune its business plan and feasibility study.

As the report nears completion, MCFN is lining up meetings in the new year with hinders to present its findings. If they see...

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