The Big Read

    Order up: With a new licence to fly cargo, B.C. drone company InDro takes a step toward home deliveries

    InDro Robotics achieved an industry first just before the new year when it became the first drone company awarded a Canadian Transportation Agency licence to fly cargo. The move sets up the small company, which conducts much of its research and development on and around B.C.’s Salt Spring Island, to further push its technology toward eventual home deliveries and move toward an initial public offering in the years to come.

    VANCOUVER — On B.C.’s Salt Spring Island, known as both a mecca for artisans and organic farmers and a community that embraces green technology, Philip Reece and his team from InDro Robotics run drone tests nearly every day that the weather cooperates. They’ve built a landing contraption on the back of a Land Rover Defender, which they drive around the island—about 30 kilometres from one end to the other—to practice precision landings, monitoring their aircrafts’ progress from a Mercedes Sprinter van they’ve converted into a mobile command unit.

    “There’s quite a lot of experimenting going on,” said Reece, “and, every fine day, you’ll see us out in the fields testing these kinds of things.” 

    Late last year, InDro achieved an industry first: the Canadian Transportation Agency awarded it the first licence granted to a drone company to fly cargo in Canada. It was the latest in a series of promising steps for the company, which had already conducted trials with big-name partners including Rogers and Canada Post. The licence gives it the ability to push its technology further, with an eye to a future that includes regular commercial deliveries to people’s homes—and a public offering.

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