by George Nott

World’s first commercial drone pizza delivery

Nov 16, 2016
Technology Industry

The world’s first commercial delivery of food by drone has took place in New Zealand this morning.

Domino’s delivered a Peri-Peri Chicken Pizza and Chicken and Cranberry Pizza to a customer in Whangaparoa, 25km north of Auckland.

The unmanned aerial vehicle – DRU Drone by Flirtey – was autonomously controlled using GPS navigation, under the watchful eye of a team of drone experts and a qualified drone pilot, the company said.

In a video of the delivery, posted on Domino’s Facebook page, the drone hovers over a large target laid out in the customer’s garden before dropping the pizzas down on a cable and flying away. It is the first of many deliveries to be completed this week, following initial trials in August.

Under Part 101 of the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority’s regulations, which covers drones weighing less than 25kg, operators are required to maintain direct sight of the drone at all times and “have consent from anyone you want to fly above”.

However, Domino’s and its delivery partner Flirtey said they had been working with the authority and had received a Part 102 Unmanned Aircraft Operators Certificate which permitted them to complete the inaugural flight.

Domino’s Group CEO and Managing Director, Don Meij, said drones would soon be an essential component of deliveries.

“They can avoid traffic congestion and traffic lights, and safely reduce the delivery time and distance by travelling directly to customers’ homes. This is the future,” he said.

“Today’s successful delivery was an important proof of this concept, DRU Drone by Flirtey can deliver the highest-quality meal to our customers, safely, and we are delighted at this milestone.”

Customers eating their drone delivered pizza

Job creator

The video of the delivery on the company’s Facebook page attracted comments expressing concerns about delivery driver job losses as a result of drones.

“This will actually create jobs,” said Meij. “As we expand, we will look to hire additional team members whose roles will be focused on drone order loading and fleet management.”

Domino’s drone delivery partner Flirtey’s CEO Matt Sweeny said plans were afoot to extend the weight and distance of drone deliveries.

“The eyes of Silicon Valley and the world are on New Zealand, which has the most forward-thinking aviation regulations, and Flirtey and Domino’s are excited to be bringing world-leading technology, international investment, and high paying jobs to New Zealand,” he said.

“We have been conducting daily testing, including final adjustments to our proprietary hardware and software, to perfect the service so that we could deliver the highest quality experience to customers in the safest possible manner. Flirtey will work with Domino’s to expand on today’s success, and plan to extend the dimensions, weight and distance of the deliveries in the future based on results and customer feedback.”

Recent Domino’s customer research found that 70 per cent of customers would use a drone for their deliveries if given the opportunity.

Safety sizzler

Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) rules restrict drone flights closer than 30 metres to vehicles, boats, buildings or people. Flying over populous areas such as beaches, heavily populated parks, or sports ovals is also prohibited.

Last week CASA said it was investigating a video posted on Youtube (since deleted and reposted on Facebook) showing a man piloting a drone to the Sunbury Bunnings carpark to pick up a sausage and delivering it to a friend waiting in an outdoor hot tub nearby.

A spokesperson for CASA told The Age that the incident potentially breached a number of drone regulations and may lead to a $9000 fine.