Domino’s Pizza just made the first step towards the strange future of pizza delivery by drone with a test project in New Zealand.
The fast food chain has partnered with drone business Flirtey to become the first commercial drone delivery service in the world—which will begin flying pizzas and wings to homes later this year.
Flirtey is an Australian startup operating in Nevada that has continued to make waves in commercial drone innovation since conducting the world’s first demonstration of drone delivery technology in the United States with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorization in July 2015. The drone deployed by Flirtey delivered a coffee, donuts, candy, a chicken sandwich and a Slurpee drink from a 7-Eleven Inc. store.
While the potential for drone delivery is being hampered somewhat in the U.S. due to still developing regulations by the FAA, the market itself is still expanding. The current commercial drone market size was estimated to be $552 million USD in 2014, according to a report from Grand View Research.
Flirtey’s tests and partnerships are filling a space that retail giants such as Amazon.com have been attempting to open up. For example, from the same report: “In July 2015, Amazon suggested the allocation of a separate airspace zone for the operation of these unmanned aerial aircraft in order to deliver goods to customers.”
According to Domino’s Group Chief Executive Don Meij, the company has been investigating drones delivery services for a while now (as part of an initiative to come up with innovative ways to get food to customers). While details as to exactly where drone delivery will open up in New Zealand are scant, the company said that it would take place alongside traditional delivery services and only when it would be faster.
“Research into different delivery methods led us to Flirtey. Their success within the airborne delivery space has been impressive and it’s something we have wanted to offer our customers,” Meij said.
The delivery radius used by drones would also be somewhat small and focus only around specific stores. However, according to Meij, expanding the project (for greater distances and using heavier loads) would depend entirely on customer feedback.
“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. It’s about working with the regulators and Flirtey to make this a reality for our customers,” Meij said, quoted by Fortune.
Pizza by drone in the US will waits, other countries fly ahead
In the U.S. FAA regulations currently restrict commercial drones from delivering parcels in the fashion that Flirtey provides. As for other purposes, however, June of this year FAA released updated guidelines for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that permit the commercial use of drones for applications such as aerial photography, emergency response, education and real estate.
In the U.K. however, companies such as Amazon.com’s drone delivery imagination is just taking off. Last month,Amazon announced that the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority provided the e-commerce giant with permission to explore drone delivery innovations. This announcement may become the beginning of what will be Amazon Prime Air, a drone delivery service that will deliver packages within 30 minutes of placing an order.
The expected capabilities use 55-pound drones with a delivery radius of 10 miles and would be capable of delivering a package of five pounds or less.
“The UK is a leader in enabling drone innovation – we’ve been investing in Prime Air research and development here for quite some time,” said Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president of global innovation policy and communications.
Although New Zealand and the United Kingdom appear to be forging ahead with pilot projects to allow for commercial drone delivery the United States appears to be lagging behind. That said, the U.S.’s FAA still sees the commercial drone market as an expanding one with the potential to generate more than $82 billion for the U.S. economy and create more than 100,000 new jobs over the next 10 years.
Image from Flirtey