By Bruce Crumley

Melbourne-based international drone delivery company Swoop Aero is ending 2022 on a high note in its domestic market, receiving an Australian government grant to extend its operation in Southern Queensland into what the firm says will be the world’s largest aerial logistics network of its kind.

The development comes as part of a wider national government effort to improve various kinds of transport in Queensland, which features both traffic-clogged cities and smaller towns separated by what are often vast spaces. Officials are providing a total $1.8 million to help finance Swoop Aero extend its existing drone logistics and delivery activity into a network covering 175,000 square kilometers, and capable of spreading to a full 400,000 square kilometers.

The project is open to all kinds of partners – including commercial businesses – though the initial focus will primarily be on using Swoop Aero’s delivery drones to speed and improve healthcare services across Southern Queensland. 

In doing so, it will build off momentum already attained in work begun in October flying lab samples for analysis between the Moreton Bay islands off Queensland’s coast and clinics in its largest city, Brisbane. That project will transport an estimated 80,000 annual test materials between facilities operated by Mater Pathology, which is also a partner in the expansion of Swoop Aero’s drone delivery network in the state.

That structure was first put into place almost exactly a year ago, when Swoop Aero was authorized to operate beyond visual line of sight  drone deliveries to the Queensland town of Goondiwindi, which had been battered by flooding and other extreme weather conditions. It has since extended those activities to the point where they’ll serve as the basis for an entirely new aerial logistics system transporting a wide variety of payloads to communities across the state.

The goal, according to officials, is nothing less than creating an entirely new tranche of logistics and transport capabilities to the country’s established supply chains.

“Swoop Aero’s Southern Queensland network will be the world’s first, and largest, fully integrated drone logistics network,” said company CEO Eric Peck. “Funding from the Federal Government will accelerate the value we can add back to Australian society, across industries, including medical transport, search and rescue, agriculture, and government.”

Swoop Aero says it will rely on its Kite drone to operate the expanding delivery network, once the craft clears advancing certification procedures in both Australia and the US.

In addition to its business in its domestic market, Swoop Aero has been active in both Europe – often with its UK partner Skyports – and particularly in Africa, where just last week the company marked its third year of drone delivery services in Malawi.