Overnight, Domino’s Pizza Enterprises of New Zealand become the world’s first company to offer a commercial drone delivery service, “a milestone in the quest to save time and money with an air-borne supply chain dispensing with people”, it also means that yet another staple minimum-wage job has been put on the endangered species list.
Domino’s Pizza Enterprises conducted a demonstration pizza delivery by drone in the New Zealand city of Auckland on Thursday, and afterwards said it aimed to be the first company to launch a regular drone service, late this year. “We’ve always said that it doesn’t make sense to have a 2-tonne machine delivering a 2-kilogram order,” Domino’s Chief Executive Officer Don Meij said in a statement.
Domino’s is not the first: some of the world’s biggest companies including Amazon and Google, have plans to make deliveries by drone as a result of which (or rather their money), aviation authorities in the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand have been relaxing rules to allow air deliveries. Last month, U.S. convenience store chain 7-Eleven Inc SILC.UL conducted the first single commercial drone delivery including coffee, donuts and a chicken sandwich, as part of a trial.
Why start in New Zealand? With clear skies and small population of 4.4 million, New Zealand last year became one of the world’s first countries to clear commercial drone deliveries. “Our enabling laws and regulation means we have the ideal environment,” New Zealand Transport Minister Simon Bridges said after the Domino’s test flight.
To be sure, there will be complications. As Philip Solaris, director of another drone company, X-craft Enterprises, and not a big fan of the Domino’s venture says that while New Zealand has accommodating regulations on drones, Domino’s would be held back by a rule requiring drones to be kept in sight at all times. “I can’t truly see how commercially viable that idea is because you would have to literally have somebody walking along to keep it in the line of sight, watching it at all times,” Solaris said.
Domino’s service would still need to overcome “random hazards (like) power lines, moving vehicles, children in the backyard playing”, he said. The Domino’s and 7-Eleven deliveries both used drones provided by U.S.-headquarted Australian drone company Flirtey.
Domino’s said it is also looking at opportunities for drone delivery trials in Australia, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Japan and Germany.
In Australia, drone deliveries will be legal next month, provided the drones stay at least 30 metres (100 feet) from houses.
Surprisingly, in the United States drones will be allowed to make deliveries as soon as next week, starting from Aug. 29, but not across state lines or over people. That will hardly be a hurdle for many, which suggests that very soon many Americans might be able to feed themselves by shooting random pizza deliveries out of the sky.
Finally, for those curious what a drone pizza delivery looks like, here is the clip released by Domino’s.