Autonomous delivery vehicles on pavements and in the air: these two companies from Qatar chose Rotterdam to make their innovation happen
Cargo bikes without a driver (Droids) and drones in the sky that pick up cargo from a smart hub and then deliver it to your doorstep. According to Geeba this will be the solution to the expensive last stage of local delivery within cities. This newest innovation aims to disrupt last-mile logistics and is to cut the expenses for e-commerce companies significantly. Two companies, originally from Qatar, bundled their forces in a joint venture: Geeba. Airlift provides the autonomous surface vehicles, N-gon supplies the drones for transport through the air, and Geeba develops the blockchain technology that will connect all the autonomous vehicles through an online platform. The droids are expected to have a radius of 35 kilometers with a speed of 25 km/h and a maximum cargo load of 40 kg.
There is room to experiment in Holland
Airlift and Geeba chose The Netherlands to develop their innovation for a reason. “In Qatar there is not much room to experiment,” says Geeba CEO Ahmed Mohamedali. “As a startup you have to go through a rigmarole to get approval for testing your product.” In Holland, especially West-Holland, the government is more lenient towards innovation and experiment. “For instance, the process of getting approval for the testing of our vehicles from the government runs smoothly. Furthermore, West-Holland has a strong robotics and blockchain ecosystem, and the connection to the rest of the European market is strong. Those were the motives for us to establish our offices here,” according to the CEO of Geeba.
Rotterdam as a business location
Ahmed Mohamedali had good reasons for choosing the city of Rotterdam with its strong tradition in manufacturing. Both the Geeba and the Airlift offices are based in the Cambridge Innovation Centre (CIC). Airlift and Geeba both received a startup visa, a temporary residence permit for ambitious starters from abroad. The visa is valid for a maximum of one year. During this next year Airlift will get the opportunity to further develop their business and innovation in cooperation with Geeba and with help from their facilitator CIC.
The companies have been assisted by the Invest in Holland partners the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA), InnovationQuarter and Rotterdam Partners.
Airlift is aiming to deploy more than 100 of its robots and smart hubs within the next 9 months. For this the team needs to grow to 19 engineering and business employees. Geeba is planning to double the team – which currently exists of 10 different nationalities – in the next year, to be able to further develop the blockchain technology needed for the logistics and launch the commercial pilot in the Netherlands.