Drone Delivery Startup Nears Takeoff in Mobile, Ala.

Deuce Drone, an unmanned aerial delivery startup, has plans to begin making deliveries for local retailers in the Legacy Village shopping center. The drone technology relies on coded mats to pinpoint landing zones.

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A drone used to demonstrate Deuce Drones' approach to aerial delivery is displayed on a landing target mat after a flight on Aug. 13, 2020.
Lawrence Specker | LSpecker@AL.c
(TNS) — Onlookers may soon see delivery drones carrying packages through the air near a major crossroads in Mobile, the intersection of Interstate 65 and Dauphin Street.

Less than a year after its first public demonstration flight, drone delivery startup Deuce Drone says it’s about to take to the sky for real. The company’s first phase of commercial operation will connect customers in the BB&T Centre, north of Dauphin on the west I-65 Service Road, with businesses in the Legacy Village shopping center, off the northwest corner of the intersection. CEO Rhett Ross said plans call for a VIP launch at the end of May followed by regular service within the next 30 days.
 
Some participants in the venture suggested it will dovetail with the gradual return of workers to office spaces, following the emphasis on working from home during the pandemic.
 
“Offering this service to our tenants and their teams is a great way to welcome people back to the office and provide new value to the office experience,” said Philip Burton, owner of BB&T Financial Centre and a member of Deuce Drone’s advisory board.
 
“Being one of the first retail centers in the region to offer regular food delivery service by drone demonstrates our commitment to using technology to keep local retail competitive in an online world,” Richard Inge, Managing Partner of Legacy Village, said in a statement released by the drone company.
 
Ross said the Legacy-to-BB&T connection would “establish daily and weekly lunch delivery service for revenue while allowing us to validate and improve key aspects of our business technology.”
 
Previously, the drone company’s founders have said their goal is to create a drone delivery business model that helps keep brick-and-mortar businesses competitive, while keeping the process as simple as possible for them. Deuce Drone uses off-the-shelf hardware with its own management software.
 
The company says that during initial operations, drones will be loaded by Deuce Drone employees. Eventually, it plans to create and install “DronePorts” that automate the loading, charging and launch process. It also has developed an app that customers will use to place orders.
 
In a demonstration last summer, the company showed a process for customers that involved setting out a landing mat with an optical code. Once a drone arrives at the general area where it’s supposed to make a delivery, it’s programmed to look for the target pad and zero in on it for a landing at exactly the right spot.
 
Deuce Drone says its operations will comply with updated Federal Aviation Administration rules going into effect in late April. Its drones will have a maximum takeoff weight of 26 pounds, allowing for five to 10 pounds of cargo.
 
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