Joel Ifill has been working to get his start up, DASH Systems, off the ground, but a hurricane got in the way.
Listening to reports out of Puerto Rico, Joel felt his time might be better spent taking what technology he had developed to date and applying it to deliver relief to residents in stranded sections of the American island that could be reached only by air. Large cities have robust and well established delivery services; remote areas do not. Ifill’s technology enables pinpoint dropping of a shipment to, say, an oil rig or rural area otherwise difficult or impossible to reach (e.g. northern Canada, areas in Africa).
Dash Systems (you can find their web site here) is a Los Angeles startup that is developing same-day delivery services for areas underserved by same-day shipping and where delivery is highly time dependent. As they explain it, “DASH Systems enables ultra precise cargo delivery anywhere in the world by using our proprietary autonomous delivery vehicles launched from commercial aircraft.”
Upon hearing about the situation in Puerto Rico, Ifill thought, “Maybe our technology can help.” And so he made some calls, obtained a waiver from the FAA, which he believes is the only waiver granted for this, arranged for charter a plane, and partnered with Air Drop Box.
Beginning yesterday, he and his team began making flights to stranded areas on a Cessna 208 that can carry about 40 packages per flight. They drop the supplies out of a plane, using the technology he developed to date to assist in the location targeting. The software that the company has developed assists in planning out deliveries, compensates for wind, and gives a satellite map to identify precisely where targets are, and it can confirm delivery. The drops in Puerto Rico use a parachute design. Going forward, this system will use a UAV that can be launched from a plane. As Mr. Ifill wrote in an email, “To do a cargo drop takes a team. Hogar Crea and The Minnesota Alliance of Communities for Puerto Rico assisted in packaging aid boxes and providing the volunteers for the drops. Hogar Crea has a large network all over the island and was instrumental in determining drop locations and providing coordination on the ground.”
How is it that an LA entrepreneur can somehow marshal the resources to provide air support to American citizens struggling for clean water and supplies and the federal government cannot? The members of the flight crew are Omar Cruz and Andres Mora from M&N Aviation, Joel Ifill from DASH Systems, and Kyle Murphy from Brisk Venture. “We all trained and studied just to be certified to do this operation, and I’m proud of how good they did,” explains Ifill.
In a phone conversation, DroneLife asked Joel to describe the situation he found when he arrived in Puerto Rico. Joel said, “Gee, that’s hard — should’ve sent a poet. I am standing in the dark right now. The vast majority of power is out. The disaster is past, but people are dying.”
You can assist the effort. Donations can be made here and will help extend his air drop relief initiative.