Joel Ifill believes everyone should have quick access to important goods like produce and medications. That’s why he founded Farcast, an aviation delivery company whose goal is to ensure everyone around the world, even in the most remote areas, has access to deliveries! Along with CEO Ben Kohlmann and CTO Filip Dziwulski, Joel is working to develop innovative technologies that will make deliveries fast, reliable, and accessible!
Before founding Farcast, Joel worked for an aerospace company. “My first job was at Aerojet working on precision-guided munitions, better known as smart bombs. I never fully felt great about that work, but what I loved is we had all this capability of launching and landing things accurately from airplanes,” Joel tells In The Know. “I said, ‘Can I re-engineer this technology, make it into something that’s peaceful, and has a positive use?’ That’s really what inspired me to start Farcast.”
Joel’s family is from Barbados, so he knows firsthand how difficult it can be to get deliveries to people during natural disasters. The goal of Farcast is to ensure people have access to goods whether they are in the midst of a natural disaster or simply live in a remote region. “There’s over a billion people who are not connected to all-weather roads. There’s about a billion people who live on islands,” says Joel. “My family is from Barbados, and every year it’s really just a roll of the dice whether or not we’ll get hit by a hurricane, and when it does happen, aid and help is really slow to come.”
At Farcast, Joel and his team are developing systems that will allow pilots to drop packages from their planes with incredible precision. “What we’re trying to do is make a repeatable, safe, and reliable precision airdrop,” Joel explains. “Something that will land in a small field time and time again.”
In order to do that, Farcast must develop advanced software that can guide pilots, as well as cargo handling systems that eject the packages—which Joel calls “pods”— out of planes. And, of course, Farcast must develop pods that can hold important goods and keep them safe. “These are the containers that essentially act as a box, but on the top of them they have a parachute and fins and a small flight computer for guidance,” Joel explains.
CEO Ben Kohlmann describes Farcast’s work as a way to bring goods to what he calls “the impossible mile.” “These are places like Africa or India or Alaska where folks need things but it takes 5, 6, 7 days to get to them. There’s also a component of the impossible mile that is temporary. So think of natural disaster locations, think of war zones,” he tells In The Know. “Being able to fly over a location allows us to get those critical infrastructure and critical supply goods to these people using a pretty unique capability.”
While Ben and Joel are overseeing the big picture at Farcast, CTO Filip Dziwulski is puzzling out exactly how to execute Farcast’s ideas. “What I’m working on now is ideating on the architecture and the short term and long term strategy for our technology,” he explains. “What we could do is fly a plane in an optimized route to fly over all these points, release these palette sized pods and they all land at these distribution centers, without landing multiple times, without burning a bunch of jet fuel taking off every time, without paying airport fees.”
Ultimately, Ben, Joel, and Filip all hope that Farcast can eventually make delivering goods to far-flung areas so normal that it seems boring. “The end vision is really this becoming a common technology you see throughout the world,” Joel explains. “Having everyone have that same level of service you’d have in a major city, and what would they do if they had that type of capability? One day I think it should be boring because you’ll see it happening wherever you go.”
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