New Zealand led the world when it gave women the vote and introduced inflation targeting. Now it’s claiming another world-first: pizza delivery by drone. Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Ltd. has joined forces with U.S.-based self-proclaimed “flying robot” operator Flirtey for the world’s first commercial drone pizza delivery, the fast-food company said. Domino’s will start testing the service in New Zealand later this year and is also looking at using drones in Australia, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Japan and Germany.
“We’ve always said that it doesn’t make sense to have a two-ton machine delivering a two-kilogram order,” Domino’s Group Chief Executive Officer Don Meij said in a statement. “The reach that a drone offers is far greater than other current options which are restricted by traffic, roads and sheer distance.”
Companies worldwide are increasingly looking to drones as a viable and more efficient delivery option, with Amazon announcing plans to use them for small packages once safety and regulatory hurdles have been cleared. New Zealand last year introduced new aviation rules to regulate and enable the use of drones for commercial purposes.
The government has also reviewed laws for driverless vehicles and is “actively promoting New Zealand as a test bed for new transport technology,” Transport Minister Simon Bridges said in a separate statement welcoming the trial. Domino’s said it envisages people ordering pizzas using an app on their smartphone and the drones zeroing in on the phone’s GPS signal. They will fly at an altitude of approximately 60 meters (197 feet) and the customer will be notified as the delivery approaches. The pizzas are then lowered out of the air, ensuring the drones remain a safe distance from the public.
“Customers will be excited by a drone delivering their pizzas from the store to their door,” Meij said. The initiative hasn’t been met with universal approval. “What about the pizza delivery jobs?” Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said in a tweet. “The government is now teaming up with big corporates to replace your jobs with robots.”
While pizzas have reportedly already been delivered by drone, including by a restaurant in Mumbai, Domino’s said its New Zealand trial will be “the first commercial drone delivery service in the world” for any product.