In November 2016, drone pizza delivery went from an idea to a reality. As delivery technology evolves, so must the regulations that surround them. As news continues to put the spotlight on alternative delivery methods, people wonder when it will be launched on a mass scale. Will people need to wait on regulatory agencies to give the green light to unmanned vehicle delivery, or are drones used for pizza delivery packages right now? And if so, where is it available?
Domino’s pizza is at the forefront of the drone delivery movement. Testing began in New Zealand on 26 September 2016. At the time of testing, New Zealand regulations required drone operators to maintain line of sight during delivery flights. Large scale delivery may not be scalable with current drone restrictions, so the company is working with the New Zealand government on modifying existing regulations.
Domino’s partnered with US-based independent drone delivery service, Flirtey. The first fully autonomous, FAA-approved drone delivery was realized by Flirtey on 25 March 2016 in Reno, Nevada, the company completed 77 orders in November in 2016 for 7-Eleven with FAA-approval.
Flirtey CEO Matt Sweeny said, “It is so exciting to work with Domino’s and achieve this world first together. The insights that Domino’s can bring by being a world-class delivery company helps Flirtey to offer a world-class drone delivery service.” The usage of drone delivery in New Zealand enables Domino’s to get pizza to their customers quickly, while they are still hot and fresh.
Currently, the Domino’s pizza delivery drones are controlled using GPS and a drone pilot. The Domino’s Robotic Unit (DRU) drones fly at an altitude of 197 feet (60 meters). A mechanism installed in the DRU prevents theft by cutting the package tether if someone tries to interfere with the drone. At the time of this writing, drone delivery is unavailable during high winds or rainy weather conditions.
Drones may be the most sustainable answer in terms of efficiency. Domino’s executives mention that it doesn’t make sense to use cars to deliver small, lightweight orders. The DRU drones don’t have the same obstacles as traditional delivery options, namely traffic and distance from the store. In the short term, New Zealand is the only country in which Domino’s offers the drone pizza delivery service. Domino’s plans to introduce the service to Australia, Japan, the Netherlands, and Germany next.