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Autonomous airline set to increase food security in remote communities

Ribbit partners with Transport Canada to carry cargo to underserved communities in northern Canada 

Autonomous airline Ribbit has signed a $1.3 million contract with Transport Canada to start testing its commercial cargo aircraft to deliver goods to northern Canada, starting in 2024.

“Ribbit ultimately exists to help improve access to transportation,” Jeremy Wang, co-founder and COO, said. “Our dream would be a future where anybody can receive goods quickly and reliably no matter where they are located.” 

Wang said the company’s initial goal is to serve northern Canada, where about 120 million pounds of food gets delivered annually. 

“These are northern, isolated communities where all cargo gets flown in by air and the cost of food and rates of food insecurity are very high,” Wang said.

Ribbit Co-founders in front of computers

The concept behind Ribbit is fairly straightforward. The company converts small aircrafts from pilot-flown, to self-flying by removing back passenger seats and adding in the appropriate software and hardware. Through this Transport Canada partnership, the company expects to retrofit a six-seater aircraft, allowing more room for cargo. Ribbit joined the University of Waterloo’s Velocity Incubator in 2019 while still in its ideation stage. Two years later it completed Canada’s first hands-free gate-to-gate flight, with co-founder Carl Pigeon on board.

Ribbit started working with Velocity in the fall of 2019, during Ribbit’s ideation stage. By April 2020 the company had incorporated and bought its first airplane. Within a year it had raised a pre-seed round and after only 14 months of operation, Ribbit completed Canada’s first hands-free gate-to-gate flight.

Read more on University of Waterloo News.

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