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drone food delivery Flirtey

Future of Food: Food flies to you

Some say the small, unmanned aircraft can provide faster and safer deliveries — and over a wider area

Drone delivery isn’t on the horizon — it’s here.

Over the past year, Domino’s Pizza has delivered pies by drone in New Zealand; Chipotle Mexican Grill has tested burritos from the sky in Blacksburg, Va.; and Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt has landed fro-yo by drone in Holland, Mich.

“We are moving closer and closer to widespread store-to-door drone delivery,” said Matthew Sweeny, CEO of Flirtey, the drone-service company that partnered with Domino’s Australian licensee for the New Zealand tests last August.

“We are thrilled with the results of our trials,” Don Meij, CEO and managing director of Australian-based Domino’s Pizza Enterprises said in a statement. “We invested in this partnership and technology because we believe drone delivery will be an essential component of our pizza deliveries.”

But drone delivery is much more than flying pies.

Oklahoma City-based Orange Leaf tested its first drone delivery last October, at Hope College in Michigan, where franchisee Jeremy Latchaw owns a drone dealership. After proving the deliveries could be done safely and within Federal Aviation Administration guidelines, Orange Leaf has offered drone appointment delivery for events and parties, said Geoff Goodman, president of the 265-unit chain.

Orange Leaf president Geoff Goodman and franchise store owner Jeremy Latchaw with a drone for the brand's frozen yogurt delivery. 

Speed is key, said Meij of Domino’s.

“Drones offer the promise of safer, faster deliveries to an expanded delivery area, meaning more customers can expect to receive a freshly made order within our ultimate target of 10 minutes,” he said. “This is the future.”

A poll of Domino’s customers showed that 70 percent would accept pizza delivered by drone, according to Reno, Nev.-based Flirtey, which has also made FAA-approved drone delivery tests for 7-Eleven.

Chipotle has also experimented with drones in a partnership with Project Wing, a unit of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc.

For drone deliveries, the sky may not be the limit.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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