TechInPacific – Swoop Aero is a startup company based in Melbourne, Australia. The startup recently has gained recognition due to its drones that deliver vaccines to the remote areas of the South Pacific. It was founded and co-founded by Eric Peck and Josh Tepper, the mechatronic and robotics engineers.
Eric Peck first met Josh Tepper when he was doing a research for an opportunity to start an air taxi service using giant drones. However, the concept didn’t seem to work out, thus, Peck wanted to start a business that has a social impact. The concept was still about drones, but not for migrating people but for delivering vaccines to remote areas.
Swoop Aero was selected by UNICEF Australia as one of the first private companies in the world that uses drones to deliver vaccination supplies for children in Vanuatu’s remote islands. Out of three contracts offered, Swoop Aerowon two of them while Wingcopter, a German company awarded the 3rd.
“This is the first time that companies around the world have been able to bid on a paid pilot program for drone transport of medical supplies – so it’s really exciting,” said Peck
Drones technology seem to be a useful solution to the lack of infrastructure as well as the geography in Vanuatu. Drone life recorded that there are over 80 volcanic islands within 1600km while 65 of them are inhibited. Among those inhibited islands, only one-third or less have roads or airfields.
Swoop Aero has recently entered world-first commercial contracts to deliver vaccines for international aid. It ran on-site demonstration of its drones last week, including delivering packages from north Efate Islands over Emao, Pele, and Nguna islands and reached its destination to Siviri village. Not only does it deliver vaccines in Vanuatu, but also to remote areas on Erromango Island. Starting from this month, Swoop Aero also serves the Shepherd Islands group.
Swoop Aero’s drones are designed with a patented distributed energy system to enable it travel to isolated and remote locations. It splits energy storage between detachable cargo pod and the drone’s shuttle. Generally, the drones are designed for small cargoes with a minimum takeoff weight of 18 kg and a 2.5 kg temperature-controlled payload.
Speaking about their method to keep vaccines in a safe temperature during the distribution, Peck explained: “The pod can have active cooling, but we found it is better to use ice because it is less risky – there’s no chance of ice malfunctioning.”He added that the cargo pod is insulated so that the contents inside will stay in cool temperature.
Swoop Aerohas a target that within 18 months will expand its operation to Papua New Guinea and the Philippines. After achieving the target, it plans to look for assignments closer to home—Australia. The biggest challenge for Swoop Aero’s operations in Australia is that they have to provide some proofs that their system has a safe operations track record.
As the startups grows, Swoop Aerois currently looking for software engineers. However, the specifications will not only based on the technical ability, but also other required abilities.
“We are looking for people who want to make an impact in the world – that’s our main driver,” Peck said