​Domino's partners with Flirtey for pizza drone delivery

Australian pizza giant Domino's has enlisted the help of drone delivery experts Flirtey to bring its pizza delivering DRU Drone to market.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Domino's and Flirtey have launched the first commercial drone delivery service, aiming to soon deliver pizza via remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) straight to a customer's front door.

Although headquartered in Brisbane, Australia, Domino's has chosen to kick off the DRU Drone initiative in Auckland, New Zealand, as the country's current regulations allow businesses to utilise unmanned aircraft.

The demonstration was conducted under Civil Aviation Rules Part 101 and marks a final step in Flirtey's approval process. Domino's said it then expects to be able to trial store-to-door drone deliveries from a selected Domino's New Zealand stores with flights to customer homes tabled for later this year.

"We are planning a phased trial approach which is based on the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) granting approval, as 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," Domino's Group CEO and managing director Don Meij, said.


Domino's DRU Drone

Image: Supplied

According to Meij, the move into drone delivery was in direct response to the increase in the number of deliveries the pizza giant was required to make, with the CEO confessing he is eager to explore new and futuristic ways to deliver pizzas to customers.

"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

Domino's said it is looking at opportunities for drone delivery trials in its six other markets: Australia, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Japan, and Germany.

As of next month, commercial operators of "very small remotely piloted aircraft" will no longer be required to obtain a number of regulatory approvals to fly their unmanned vehicles under new regulations approved by the Australian government in April.

Under the changes, the government also gave the directive to drop the terms "drone" and "unmanned aerial vehicle" and replace them with remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) to align itself with International Civil Aviation Organization terminology.

The changes apply to RPA used in commercial operations weighing less than two kilograms maximum take-off weight.

Under the new rules, drone operators will need to notify Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) that they intend to fly their aircraft and adhere to a set of standard operating conditions, which include flying only during the day within a visual line of sight, below 120 metres; keeping more than 30 metres away from other people; flying more than 5.5 kilometres from controlled aerodromes; and not operating near emergency situations.

Earlier this year, Domino's unveiled the first commercial autonomous delivery vehicle, the Domino's Robotic Unit, known as DRU.

Capable of driving at only 18 to 20 kilometres per hour, DRU uses Google Map data and data obtained by Domino's GPS tracking technology to manipulate bridges, footpaths, and even rubbish bins placed on the curb.

Weighing in at just under 190kg, DRU has a custom-built hot and cold food compartment and upon receiving a delivery, the customer inputs a code provided to them by Domino's, which opens the top hatch of the unit.

DRU was born out of Domino's innovation lab, DLAB, with help from local startup Marathon Robotics. Located at Domino's headquarters in Brisbane, DLAB is a startup incubator, designed to attract a dynamic range of entrepreneurs from food science through digital technology.

Meij said Thursday that the use of delivery drones is expected to work alongside the company's current delivery fleet -- and DRU -- and will be fully integrated into existing online ordering and GPS systems.

"Domino's is all about providing customers with choice and making customer's lives easier. Adding innovation such as drone deliveries means customers can experience cutting-edge technology and the convenience of having their Supreme pizza delivered via air to their door -- this is the future," he said.

"We've always said that it doesn't make sense to have a 2-tonne machine delivering a 2-kilogram order.

"What drones allow us to do is to extend that delivery area by removing barriers such as traffic and access, as well as offering a much faster, safer delivery option, which means we can deliver further afield than we currently do to our rural customers while reaching our urban customers in a much more efficient time."

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