History was made in Lawrence Monday after a McDonald’s Big Mac and french fries were delivered to tech company Schneider Geospatial.
In addition to the drone-delivered lunch, the United States Postal Service made its first traditional delivery to a smart mailbox.
— Griffin Wiles (@GRIFFINWILES) August 8, 2022
The deliveries were pioneered by Dronedek, which focuses onpackage security for traditional and drone mail.
Founder and CEO of Dronedek Dan O’Toole said he came up with the idea for a receptacle for autonomous delivery years ago after first seeing a drone fly near his car. He felt like he was on to something big, he said, so he went to patent it. Three years later, his patent was accepted, revealing he beat out Amazon by nine days and USPS by two weeks.
“This is a culmination of a dream that I’ve had since 2014,” O’Toole said.
The mailboxes will eventually be made available for commercial and residential use. Deliveries to Dronedek’s app-controlled mailboxes will be kept hot or cold, and users will be alerted when a parcel is delivered. Additionally, the mailboxes can recharge drones and serve as an emergency alert. O'Toole said these emergency alerts can be activated in cases of crime, fire and health crises. So, a Dronedek mailbox can light up in different colors to alert those near it to what emergency is going on within the house.
For example, O'Toole said the mailbox will be able to light up red and blue if police are needed, thus informing neighbors to be alert.
Lawrence Mayor Steve Collier said the new implementation of smart mailboxes is the “cherry on top” of the various technological advancements the city has made in recent years.
The city won TechPoint's Rising Tech City Mira Award in 2020, which is awarded to a city, region or community of Indiana that has pioneered the location's advancement with tech friendliness. Local tech companies Bloomerang and Schneider Geospatial have been nominated for tech-related Mira Awards, with Schneider Geospatial winning twice.
“I love the fact that we’re becoming known as a tech campus,” Collier said.
Manager of the Indiana District of USPS Christi Johnson-Kennedy lauded the benefits of autonomous deliveries of traditional mail.
“Delivering like this, the more it expands, creates the opportunity for us to be extremely efficient,” she said
She noted the additional safety measures drone deliveries implement, as they may keep mail carriers from walking house-to-house in unsafe conditions.
As smart mailboxes become more widely available, O'Toole noted it would open a 24-hour delivery window as opposed to the typical 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. window.
“It shows the forward-thinking that the U.S. Postal Service has,” O’Toole said. “They’re looking at the future, and they’re seeing it in Dronedek.”
Mail delivery is not the sole purpose of Dronedek’s presence in Indiana — Dronedek brand manager Shaun Walling said the company partnered with Truweather Solutions to help provide more precise data related to things like humidity, wind speeds and temperature. The company is also in talks with national food delivery services like UberEats and DoorDash to enhance the efficiency of food delivery.
Dronedek mailboxes are located at the following locations:
La Hacienda: 5625 Lawton Loop East Drive
Culver’s: 5525 N. Post Rd.
Bloomerang: 5724 Birtz Rd.
Schneider Geospatial: 8901 Otis Avenue
He said by the end of the year, 50 mailbox units will be in Lawrence as opposed to the four currently there.
"It’s very important to us to put units out, deploy the units, run them for a set period of time and extrapolate what we’ve learned," O'Toole said.
For more information on Dronedek, visit their website at dronedek.com.
You can reach Pulliam Fellow Griffin Wiles at GWiles@gannett.com or on Twitter at @griffinwiles.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Dronedek's smart mailbox deliveries include mail, McDonald's