​Drones to deliver Domino’s pizzas

Flights to customer’s homes to begin in New Zealand at the end of the year with Australia also a potential test site

Pizza retailer, Domino’s has announced that it will start delivering food using drones following a new agreement with Flirtey.

New Zealand has been chosen as the launch market for what is claimed to be the first commercial drone delivery service in the world. A drone pizza delivery was demonstrated in Auckland today and was attended by the NZ Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Minister for Transport, Simon Bridges.

The demonstration was conducted under Civil Aviation Rules Part 101 and marks a final step in Flirtey’s approval process for commercial drone flights. Initial CAA-approved trials of customer deliveries will start with a select product range and within a limited distance of a store, Domino’s said.

Flights to customer homes will begin later this year following the beginning of daylight savings in New Zealand. Product options and delivery distance will expand throughout the trial process as the retailer successfully completes each step in the trial.

New Zealand has been selected as the launch market given its current regulations which enable businesses to embrace unmanned aircraft opportunities, which enable the gradual testing of new and innovative technologies.

Flirtey’s staff help Domino’s workers safely load the delivery drones at the store. The drones then fly autonomously at around 60 metres (200ft) and the customer is notified as the delivery is approaching. The deliveries are then made to customer’s home by safely lowering the package out of the air, a process that ensures the delivery drones always remain a safe distance from the public, Domino’s said.

“Flirtey also has an inbuilt cutting mechanism so in the event someone tries to pull on the tether to interfere with the drone, it is released automatically and the drone is able to fly away undamaged,” Domino’s said.

Drones will work alongside the retailer’s current delivery fleet and will be fully integrated into online ordering and GPS systems.

Domino’s Group CEO and managing director, Don Meij, said the retailer has invested heavily to provide stores with different delivery fleet options such as electric scooters, e-bikes and the Domino’s Robotic Unit – DRU, which was launched earlier this year.

“We’ve always said that it doesn’t make sense to have a 2-tonne machine delivering a 2-kilogram order,” he said. “DRU DRONE is the next stage of the company’s expansion into the artificial intelligence space and gives us the ability to learn and adopt new technologies in the business,” he said.

According to Domino’s, the reach that a drone offers is far greater than other current options which are restricted by traffic, roads and sheer distance.

Domino’s said it will look at the results of the trial to determine where drones are implemented further. The retailer said it is looking at opportunities for drone delivery trials in six other markets – Australia, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Japan and Germany.