Jersey Mike's to offer its subs by drone

Expanding drone testbeds are attracting national chains. Will customers care?
Written by Greg Nichols, Contributing Writer

You might think you should look down toward the water to spot a sub. If you're in North Carolina, you'd be better off looking up. That terrible joke is brought to you by a drone delivery services company called Flytrex, which just announced a partnership with Jersey Mike's Subs.

I've been a fan of Flytrex since the company delivered a beer by drone way back in 2015. Since then, the Israeli drone delivery enterprise has expanded its business-to-consumer model, although growth has been largely constrained by the need for special waivers from the FAA to fly beyond the visual line of sight. That, in turn, has led to a patchwork of testbeds but no single dominant player in the commercial drone delivery game.

Flytrex's main U.S. testbed is in North Carolina, where the company has expanded its drone delivery presence over the past couple of years. Flytrex has been making deliveries in suburban Holly Springs thanks to FAA waivers that are part of the UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP), which is designed to bring state, local, and tribal governments together with drone operators and manufacturers to accelerate safe commercial drone integration. The program is being seen within the sector as something of a springboard for drone manufacturers. 

The partnership with Jersey Mike's Subs brings some national chain clout to the effort. Customers in the service area can now order subs to front and backyards, with a flight time of just five minutes. 

That short delivery time, in part, is due to the limitations of the delivery service area, which the FAA mandates. Flytrex is offering its delivery service in cooperation with longtime partner Causey Aviation Unmanned under a waiver that allows a delivery radius of one nautical mile. If that seems slim, it nonetheless accounts for thousands of homes, making it a notable proving ground, both on the technological and consumer adoption sides.  

"We're excited to team up with Jersey Mike's to deliver subs throughout the skies of North Carolina and look forward to expanding our partnership everywhere they deliver their delicious food," said Yariv Bash, CEO and co-founder of Flytrex. "Drone delivery is accelerating quicker than anyone could have anticipated, and we are thrilled to be at the forefront of that movement – using our technology to ensure retailers and restaurants can stay ahead of the ultrafast delivery curve."

Flytrex recently launched another pilot in Granbury, Texas, near Dallas-Fort Worth, though it's been in North Carolina since September 2020. The choice of location is significant given the state's 'First in Flight' bona fides. The company now reaches about 10,000 homes across North Carolina and Texas. 

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