DronesDash Ditches Delivery Service, Pivots to Public Safety Drones

DronesDash is pivoting its business model to create a specialized public safety drone for fire departments, after Federal Aviation Administration regulations forced the company to upend its delivery service, Mobility Buzz has learned.

DronesDash — founded in July 2016 by Chase Traficanti, John Gotcher, Ayush Jain, and Shivum Agarwal — was initially launched as a drone delivery service for cannabis in California. However, the company had to ditch its delivery service, given the FAA’s visual line of sight regulations. The regulation means the drones cannot be launched and kept in the air without someone watching, which caused the delivery service to be a difficult feat for DronesDash.

“We tried to figure out the best market entry point, and we already saw that public safety was an underserved area,” Chief Executive Chase Traficanti told Mobility Buzz, “but we wanted to go with delivery at first because we figured there was more money in it.”

To that end, DronesDash pivoted in December 2016, and is wrapping up the research and development of its entry-level product, dubbed Pheonix. The company will begin to schedule demo appointments with San Francisco Bay Area fire departments starting in late March, Traficanti said.

The current prototype will feature an infrared camera to locate hot spots — or fire — with a live video stream and a megaphone for crowd control.

Future developments include seeking exemption from local governments so that fire departments can launch a drone autonomously — without someone watching — allowing the drone to reach a fire before the department itself, Traficanti said. Currently, the drone will have to ride in the truck until being launched at the sight of the fire.

Traficanti also hopes DronesDash will reenter the delivery market, but the company remains focused on public safety, for now.

“It’s cool to see that after a whole year of this pivoting — startups are so much work, you don’t get paid, and there’re so many disruptions — it’s exciting to have a product coming to launch,” he said.

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