The Lowdown: Drone deliveries

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

The Lowdown: Just Eat trials Drone deliveries

Related tags Restaurant Technology delivery

Just Eat is trialling a drone delivery service to transport food from restaurants to customers

I thought the only deliveries done by drone were for contraband dropped into prison yards?
Not anymore. The delivery company will be doing things above board by supplying food and drink from restaurants. What’s more, it says it will be able to do so within three minutes.

Now that sounds like fast food. Maybe my McDonald’s delivery will actually be warm when it arrives…
Potentially, but the fast food giant isn’t part of the trial. Instead, Just Eat is partnering with drone manufacturer Manna and Dublin-based restaurant group Camile Thai and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream via the Just Eat app to trial the airborne delivery service from next month. However, it will only be available to students at University College Dublin.

Massaman curry and Phish Food it is then. So how does it work?
It’s all thanks to Manna having created what it says is ‘the world’s first aviation-grade drone delivery platform’. For the consumer, the process ostensibly remains the same: you order your food via the Just Eat website or app and, once prompted, go to the designated pick-up-point to meet the delivery, which will presumably be close by. You shouldn’t have to wait too long either; Manna promises the takeaway will reach the customer within three minutes of the drone collecting the food from the restaurant or vendor. Manna CEO and founder Bobby Healy says the technology will “transform online food marketplaces, restaurants, dark kitchens, and communities globally”.

Sounds ideal. Does this look like something that will be rolled out?
It’s impossible to know for now. Amanda Roche-Kelly, managing director of Just Eat Ireland, says the service will “greatly improve the delivery experience for customers”, so it could be something it would like to make available on a more commercial scale. But a number of obstacles would presumably stand in the way. Trying to bring the technology to the capital, for example, could prove tricky given that there are significant rules and restrictions to prevent unmanned aircraft or drones from flying around large parts of London.

Fair point. Is this the first time we’ve seen this technology used to deliver food?
Not at all. Google’s parent company Alphabet launched the world’s first food drone delivery service in Australia last April, following a number of trials. And closer to home in Milton Keynes, Robot company Starship Technologies has been trialling a scheme for a number of months that uses ground drones to deliver groceries and packages. Of course, if you really want to drop food from the sky in style then look no further than a recent Instagram video from Salt Bae, where the steak slinger takes to the skies over Manhattan in a helicopter to perform his sprinkling salt down the arm trick on the unsuspecting people below.

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That’s, err, rather unconventional
With food delivery it appears that the sky’s the limit.

Related topics Trends & Reports Casual Dining

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