Manna, the Irish drone delivery start-up, is expanding into the US after securing an investment from Coca-Cola HBC.
The Dublin-based company has been operating in parts of its home city in recent years, carrying out delivery by unmanned drones of food and consumer products like electronics.
It is now launching a trial of its service in the Dallas/Fort Worth area through a partnership with real estate development firm Hillwood.
The pair will test drone delivery within a 27,000-acre mixed-use development in the area.
Approvals from the FAA for the trial are pending.
Ahead of the deal, Coca-Cola HBC, a partner of the soft drink giant, has invested in Manna. Figures for the deal have not been disclosed.
Manna chief executive Bobby Healy said the latest moves are the first steps for the company to scaling internationally.
“Working with Hillwood who develop technology-forward, innovative lifestyle communities and with Coca-Cola HBC who are committed to more sustainable and advanced delivery solutions is testament to the realization that last mile delivery can be done in a more efficient, safer and greener way,” Healy said.
Christopher Ash, senior vice president of aviation business development for Hillwood, said the mixed-use development provides a unique environment to test new technologies.
“At Hillwood, we are a team collaborating to bring innovative supply chain technologies to North Texas and provide next-level amenities to the communities we reach,” he said.
The Coca-Cola HBC investment will also see Manna collaborate with the bottling partner on other new ventures.
Last year Healy said in an interview that Manna would first expand in Europe before looking to the US. It is understood the company is still planning mainland European operations this year.
The trial in Dallas/Fort Worth puts Manna right in the crosshairs of one of its competitors. Israeli drone delivery company Flytrex has been operating in the area in recent years as well as another location in North Carolina, as it focused on the US market first.
Meanwhile Alphabet and Amazon are active in the space. Despite the presence of large tech companies in the field, drone delivery’s market leader position still remains up for grabs, even close to decade after Amazon first unveiled its drone aspirations. Regulatory challenges continue to disrupt Amazon’s plans, according to a recent report.
Manna has previously raised $40 million funding from backers including Dynamo Ventures and Molten Ventures.