World first drone delivery

Emma and Johnny Norman of Whangaparaoa got more than just pizza when they became part of a drone delivery trial.

Emma and Johnny Norman did not expect to be part of a world first when they were asked whether they’d like to have pizza delivered to their place by drone.

Emma says that Dominos Whangaparaoa identified their home in Stanmore Bay as suitable for a drone delivery trial, and Johnny was approached while mowing the lawns and asked whether they’d like to be considered.

A good landing space was needed, and several homes within the radius of the store were in the running for the trial.

Emma, who was fielding calls from Melbourne about the delivery when Hibiscus Matters contacted her, says the family was really excited when they heard they’d been chosen for the first delivery, but had no idea how big a deal it really was.

Following a successful practice run on November 15, the Norman’s pizzas – they chose Peri-Peri Chicken and Chicken and Cranberry – were delivered on November 16. Dominos says this was a world first: the first commercial delivery of food by drone to a customer.

The family heard the drone approaching, “like a mini-helicopter” and then watched from a safe distance while their pizzas were lowered onto a landing pad on their lawn, like a spider dropping down from its web.

Dominos is still conducting trials of its drone delivery service (in conjunction with Flirtey) that will eventually be able to be selected by customers opting in, online. The drone deliveries utilise GPS Driver Tracker technology so that customers can see the journey from the store to the door.

The company hopes to have the service available to customers within 12 months.

Emma says that by the time her youngest child grows up, pizza delivery boys and girls could be a thing of the past. “Some kids saw the drone going past on its way to us and they were quite matter of fact about it. The adults were way more excited.”

Dominos Group chief executive and managing director, Don Meij, says the drone service promises safer, faster deliveries to an expanded delivery area.

“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,” Don says.

The company conducted more delivery flights to customers from the Whangaparaoa store later that week, and will use the information gathered to expand drone flights to a larger area next year.

“We expect DRU Drone by Flirtey to be an essential addition to our delivery fleet,” Don says. “This will actually create jobs. As we expand, we will look to hire additional team members whose roles will be focused on drone order loading and fleet management.”