World’s First Autonomous Drone Pizza Delivery Takes Place in New Zealand

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Flirtey droneNew Zealand has a lot going for it. The most obvious perk is that it’s gorgeous – I mean, come on, it’s Middle Earth. From what I’ve heard, the weather is nice, the people are friendly, and the overall pace of life is pretty relaxed – apparently it’s pretty easy to move there, too. If that’s not enough, the country just got even more appealing, because before this year is over, New Zealand residents are going to be able to get pizzas delivered by drones directly to their houses.

Just a month ago, drone manufacturer Flirtey teamed up with 7-Eleven for a history-making moment in Nevada, when a drone brought a Reno family donuts and Slurpees, making the family the first US residents to receive a delivery from a drone directly to their house, a goal Flirtey has been working toward for a while now. At the time, we speculated on when the world might start seeing drones delivering pizza and takeout to people’s homes, and it certainly didn’t take long at all. This week, the first-ever autonomous drone pizza delivery took place in Auckland, New Zealand, making the city the envy of the world (or just the envy of me, I’m not sure).

The Flirtey pizza delivery (not to be confused with a flirty pizza delivery, which is usually just an attempt at getting a higher tip) was the result of a partnership between the drone manufacturer and Domino’s Pizza Enterprises. The autonomous flight demonstration was conducted under Civil Aviation Rule Part 101 and was attended by New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority, along with Minister of Transport Simon Bridges. It was the final step in the approval process for Flirtey, which will now have the go-ahead to start making drone deliveries to residential homes in New Zealand.

“Launching the first commercial drone delivery service in the world is a landmark achievement for Flirtey and Domino’s, soon you will be able to order a Flirtey to deliver your pizza on-demand,” said Matt Sweeny, CEO of Flirtey. “New Zealand has the most forward-thinking aviation regulations in the world, and with the new U.S. drone regulations taking effect on Aug. 29, Flirtey is uniquely positioned to bring the same revolutionary Flirtey drone delivery service to partners within the United States.”

Flirtey has been working directly with the Federal Aviation Administration to update the rules for commercial drone operations, which, as Sweeny said, will go into effect in a few days. (You can read more about the new drone regulations here.) That, along with the fact that Flirtey is recruiting and hiring drone engineers and operators for both New Zealand and the United States, is a good sign that we in the US may soon be able to take advantage of piping hot flying pizzas as well.

Matt Sweeny, Don Meij (Domino’s (DPE) Group CEO) and Minister Simon Bridges (Minister of Transport)

Flirtey CEO Matt Sweeny, Domino’s Pizza Enterprises CEO Don Meij and New Zealand Minister of Transport Simon Bridges

And they will be piping hot. In addition to proving that Flirtey’s drones can deliver pizzas safely and effectively, the demonstration also showed that the special packaging used for the delivery kept the pizza hot, fresh and tasting great – which is important, because drones tend to be far less reasonable than humans about the whole “if it’s not hot, you’ll get your money back” thing.

Don Meij (Domino’s (DPE) Group CEO)

Don Meij with a drone and a pizza.

“Partnering with Flirtey to revolutionize the delivery experience is an achievement that will set our company apart in the minds of customers and change the way delivery is conducted around the world,” said Group CEO and Managing Director Don Meij of Domino’s Pizza Enterprises. “Domino’s customers can expect the freshest and fastest pizza delivery service at the same quality they have come to expect from us thanks to Flirtey’s industry-leading technology.”

Domino’s is actually already pretty technologically advanced; the company has also been developing a robotic ground delivery service called DRU (Domino’s Robotic Unit). The technology hasn’t been commercialized at this point, but Domino’s is serious about being at the forefront of next-generation delivery tech.

The delivery drone is made from carbon fiber, aluminum and 3D printed parts; when it reaches its destination, it lowers the pizza, or Slurpees, or other important cargo, with an attached tether. The drone has built-in safety features such as auto-return home in the occasion of low GPS signal or communication loss, and safe location return in case of low battery.

New Zealand and the United States are the two focus areas for Flirtey right now; the company just hired former Aviation New Zealand CEO Samantha Sharif to join the Flirtey New Zealand board. The partnership between Domino’s and Flirtey will be expanding later this year, resulting in regular airborne deliveries to New Zealand customers’ homes. At first, only one Domino’s location will be delivering via pizza drone, but the service is sure to expand before long – so if you’ve ever idly wished that a pizza would drop out of the sky into your hands, sit tight, because your wish is likely to become a reality very soon. Discuss further over in the Pizza Deliveries By Drone forum at 3DPB.com.

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