FOOD ON THE FLY
Food is delivered via new flying drone systems
Drone delivery is soaring to greater heights with new contenders entering the ring. This spring the U.S. Department of Transportation gave the market a push by selecting 10 state, local and tribal governments, in partnership with various tech-focused companies, as social and scientific test areas. Drones are delivering food far beyond the U.S., too, including programs in Iceland and China.
Food deliveries made by on-demand service AHA in Iceland were cut from more than half an hour to mere minutes through a trial with drones done by Flytrex last summer. The system allowed the nearly autonomous delivery to travel across a bay in Reykjavík that humans have to drive around. This month, Flytrex began offering the service on a golf course in North Dakota. Players use an app to order a drone delivery from the clubhouse restaurant to be received at a pre-approved drop-off point. The $3 delivery fee saves golfers the inconvenience of pausing the game to go get food themselves or playing through their hunger until they reach the last hole.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a talk at an LA conference, “It’s my personal belief that a key to solving urban mobility is flying burgers, in any city.” UberEats is piloting just that in San Diego, in a program that claims it can cut the time of some deliveries down to just five minutes, with 30 minutes being the maximum wait time, which is a more standard delivery estimate for human couriers. Uber’s flying burgers will likely become widespread before its flying cars.
Alibaba is known for embracing new technology, and along with recently acquiring food delivery service Ele.me, it is now offering food delivery via drone. Consumers who are within walking distance of Shanghai’s Jinshan Industrial Park can order food to two drop-off points for delivery within 20 minutes, providing quicker service than relying on a person driving through traffic. Ele.me employees make the hand-off to the distribution center and from the drop-off point to the waiting customer.