It’s happening. It’s really happening. Drones are starting to deliver goods in real-life commercial settings. In New Zealand, that is.
In a move that will have Amazon’s Prime Air team looking on with envy, and possibly salivating as well, a branch of Domino’s Pizza about 10 miles north of central Auckland has sent out its first drone carrying piping hot pizza to an actual paying customer.
The flying pizza service launched on Wednesday “for select customers,” the company said in a release. We’re not sure how exactly they were selected, but we guess they eat a lot of pizza, live close to this particular Domino’s outlet, and are cool with a drone delivering their dinner. In fact, Domino’s said a recent survey it conducted showed 70 percent of Kiwis would be more than happy to have their pizza flown in by a quadcopter.
Commenting on its latest delivery method, which will co-exist with the more familiar bike-based delivery riders rather than replace them, Domino’s Pizza Australia CEO Don Meij said, “Drones offer the promise of safer, faster deliveries to an expanded delivery area, meaning more customers can expect to receive a freshly-made order within our ultimate target of 10 minutes.”
“This is the future,” Mr. Meij said, although his ground-based pizza-delivering robot back in Oz might have a word or two to say about that.
The new delivery service has been made possible thanks in part to Flirtey, a Nevada-based drone delivery specialist. The two companies teamed up earlier this year for a test run of the service, with Meij insisting at the time that the plan wasn’t simply “a pie-in-the-sky idea.” Although in a way it is.
Flirtey’s specially designed delivery drone is made from carbon fibre, aluminum, and 3D printed components. Lightweight and autonomous, the flying machine lowers its tasty cargo outside a customer’s home via a tether, as shown in the video above.
The bird’s built-in safety features include low-battery return-to-safe-location programming, and auto-return-home commands in case of a low GPS signal or communication loss.
Domino’s had to secure regulatory approval to launch the aerial delivery service, and now hopes to take it to more locations across the country in the coming months.