Domino’s aims to be first to deliver pizzas by drone

26 Aug 2016


Pizza chain Domino's is aiming for a new first by trialling a brand new way of delivering pizza: via drones, or flying robots in the sky.

Teaming-up with drone delivery company Flirtey, the firm behind the first-ever legal drone delivery in the US last year, Domino's is looking at this unique way to ensure that your pizza never gets cold during delivery. It will roll the service out first in Auckland, New Zealand.

Although headquartered in Brisbane, Australia, Domino's has kicked off the drone initiative in New Zealand because the country's current air regulations allow businesses to "utilise unmanned aircraft".

Domino's chief executive officer, Don Meij, said, "These trial deliveries will help provide the insight we need to extend the weight carried by the drone and distance travelled. It is this insight that we hope will lead to being able to consider a drone delivery option for the majority of our orders."

Marking the final step in Flirtey's approval process, Domino's trail was conducted under the CAA's Aviation Rules Part 101.

However, while mouth-burningly hot pizza on your door step sounds pretty good, the service is yet to receive regulatory approval. Under current New Zealand CAA rules, drones cannot be operated at night, they must remain in clear sight of the pilot, and they cannot have a total weight of more than 25kg.

Regardless of these rules, Domino's and Flirtey said they expect to be able to begin store-to-home trial deliveries later this year - that's if they get the okay from the authority.

"We are planning a phased trial approach which is based on the CAA granting approval, as both Domino's and Flirtey are learning what is possible with the drone delivery for our products but this isn't a 'pie in the sky' idea," Meij said.

"It's about working with the regulators and Flirtey to make this a reality for our customers."

Autonomous car delivery
This is not the first time Domino's has attempted to get its pizzas to the door steps of salivating customers in a novel way. Earlier this year, the pizza company unveiled the first commercial autonomous delivery vehicle, the Domino's Robotic Unit (DRU).

The clever driverless cars will use your smartphone to find your location as well as a sophisticated detection system to anticipate obstacles in the road.

The fast food company also claims that the vehicles can carry four times as many pizzas as their 'people driven vehicles'.

However, the robots are only capable of driving at 11-13 miles per hour, so while they are able to use Google Map data and data obtained by Domino's GPS tracking technology to manipulate bridges, paths, and even rubbish bins placed on the curb, we can't imagine they'll deliver your hot food hot.

Meanwhile, drone delivery is almost reality - even in the UK. But the UK is in similar 'test phase' position to New Zealand when it comes to the roll out of commercial drone deliveries.

Online retail giant Amazon was given government backing to get its "PrimeAir" drone delivery service off the ground last month, but, as with New Zealand, regulations mean it's not been given the green light to roll out the service fully just yet.

In July, a cross-government team, supported by the UK CAA, gave Amazon permission to investigate three key areas that will help to make the autonomous deliveries a reality, such as testing sensors to ensure that drones can identity and avoid obstacles.

However, before giving the go ahead, the UK CAA needs to ensure that during the tests, Amazon is making sure drone delivery does not adversely affect other airspace users.

The end goal is for Amazon's PrimeAir service to eventually deliver small packages weighing up to 5lbs (2.27kg) in 30 minutes or less.

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