The availability of personal food delivery has become one of modern life’s greatest conveniences! Who hasn’t ordered a pizza on a cold, rainy night?  Or gratefully placed an order for dinner when arriving home after a long day at work? Food delivery is a fixture in our world – but with the help of technology, it is undergoing some interesting changes. 

As a matter of fact, late in 2016 Connect Robotics conducted a pilot project enabling the delivery of meals by an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), more commonly termed a “drone,” rather than by traditional auto-type transportation.   

But the process did not start there.  Drones for food delivery have been discussed for several years – with some serious conversations taking place as early as 2013.

While both Amazon and WalMart are eager to make the use of drones for food deliveries a staple service for their customers, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not approved drones in the United States. The topic remains complicated and unsettled,  with driverless cars and trucks and rolling robots anticipated soon, drones cannot be far behind.

Here at home pizza drones are expected to be the wave of the future.  However, in New Zealand residents are already enjoying pizza delivered to their door!  This unique service began in late August 2017 when the first drone-based food delivery took place in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. For a city prone to traffic jams and the obstacles presented by a large bay that divides the city into two parts, this option slashes wait times for hungry customers and makes “take off” the perfect solution for ”take out.”   The immediate emphasis for this drone program is on food delivery for now, but it will eventually include other consumer items as well.

So where do we stand in the United States? If you follow the vision of Matt Sweeney, the CEO of Nevada-based drone maker, Flirtey, he admits that even though New Zealand is ahead of the US.  He expects to roll out similar opportunities in the Netherlands, Australia and Japan next. He believes that the first US deliveries will most likely occur from convenience stores to homes the first US drone.  With the focus on the delivery of food and over-the-counter medicines.

Here is the scenario that Sweeney predicts is most likely for us in the early years of drone acceptance.  A suburban parent is at home with a sick child. He or she uses a convenience store app on the smart phone.  They order cough syrup, aspirin and Taquitos at the same time. The delivery of these essentials occur quickly without the parent ever having to leave the house!

Grub Hub and FoodPanda have already created successful platforms serving as the middle man between restaurants and consumers.  They use vehicles and bikes to quickly deliver restaurant quality food to residences. It is not much of a leap of faith to envision drones as the next step!

Stay tuned – we will continue to update this information if and when they address FAA regulations!

About the Author

John Mellage is a Member of the Firm. He has extensive experience in food + beverage, manufacturing/distribution, nonprofit, and construction. John's real-world, practical advice provides the firm's mid-size, privately-held clients with the knowledge they need to have a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Drawing on his deep knowledge gained by managing audits, compilations, reviews and other attestation engagements for clients of all sizes – from start-up entrepreneurs to established co...