Domino's explores drone deliveries in NZ

Trials will commence later this year, subject to Civil Aviation Authority approval

With interest in drones really taking off, Domino’s are grabbing a pizza the action and seeking to trial a UAV delivery service in New Zealand.

Domino’s demonstrated its DRU drone in Auckland today, watched by Minister of Transport Simon Bridges who said it was “fantastic to witness”.

The full trial has yet to be approved by New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority, but Domino’s and project partner, drone delivery provider Flirtey said they were working closely with regulators to make it a reality. If approved, trials will commence later this year.

“This isn’t a pie in the sky idea,” said Domino’s CEO, Don Meij.

“What drones allow us to do is to extend that delivery area by removing barriers such as traffic and access, as well as offering a much faster, safer delivery option, which means we can deliver further afield than we currently do to our rural customers while reaching our urban customers in a much more efficient time.”

Domino’s and Flirtey said New Zealand was “selected as the launch market given its current regulations allow for businesses to embrace unmanned aircraft opportunities”.

Nevertheless, under Part 101 of the CAA’s regulations, which covers drones weighing less than 25kg, operators are required to maintain direct sight of the drone at all times and “have consent from anyone you want to fly above”

The company said it was exploring opportunities for drone delivery trials in Australia. Civil Aviation Safety Authority rules here don’t require consent from people the drone flies over but do restrict flying closer than 30 metres to vehicles, boats, buildings or people. Flying over populous areas such as beaches, heavily populated parks, or sports ovals is also prohibited.

Earlier this year, Flirtey completed the first fully autonomous FAA-approved urban drone delivery in the US, delivering bottled water and a first aid kit to an uninhabited residential setting in Nevada.

“Launching the first commercial drone delivery service in the world is a landmark achievement for Flirtey and Domino’s, heralding a new frontier of on-demand delivery for customers across New Zealand and around the globe,” said Flirtey CEO Matt Sweeny.

“New Zealand has the most forward-thinking aviation regulations in the world, and with our new partnership with the leader in pizza delivery worldwide, Domino’s, we are uniquely positioned to bring the same revolutionary drone delivery service to customers globally.”

In March, Domino’s tested its autonomous delivery vehicle DRU on restricted streets in Queensland.

“We’ve always said that it doesn’t make sense to have a two tonne machine delivering a two kilogram order,” said Meij.

Read more: Airflow prediction to make more energy efficient drones

“DRU Drone is the next stage of the company’s expansion into the artificial intelligence space and gives us the ability to learn and adopt new technologies in the business.”

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