Pizza-by-drone a reality with world-first NZ delivery

Published: Wed 16 Nov 2016 02:15 PM
DRU drone by Flirtey
16 November 2016
Pizza-by-drone a reality with world-first customer deliveries in New Zealand
Drone deliveries of pizza are now a reality, with the first commercial delivery of food by drone to a customer, anywhere in the world, successfully completed in New Zealand this morning.
Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Limited (Domino’s) and drone delivery partner Flirtey delivered the first order, a Peri-Peri Chicken Pizza, and a Chicken and Cranberry Pizza, at 11:19am (GMT+13) to a customer in Whangaparaoa [pronounced Fong-AH-pa-ROW-ah] , 25km north of Auckland.
The unmanned aerial vehicle, DRU Drone by Flirtey, was autonomously controlled using GPS navigation, overseen by a team of drone experts and a qualified and experienced drone pilot.
Domino’s Group CEO and Managing Director, Don Meij, said the successful DRU Drone by Flirtey delivery came just three months after the companies announced their partnership, but followed a number of operational and product trials, including food temperature testing, and liaison with government.
From left, Samantha Sharif (Flirtey) Scott Bush (Domino's GM - NZ)
“We invested in this partnership, and technology, because we believe drone delivery will be an essential component of our pizza deliveries, so even more customers can receive the freshest, hottest pizza we can offer,” Mr Meij said.
“Our partnership with Flirtey grew out of this drive to innovate. Their success within the airborne delivery space has been impressive and we’re proud to have partnered with them on this world first.
“DRU Drone by Flirtey offers 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.
“They can avoid traffic congestion and traffic lights, and safely reduce the delivery time and distance by travelling directly to customers’ homes. This is the future.
“Today’s successful delivery was an important proof of this concept, DRU Drone by Flirtey can deliver the highest-quality meal to our customers, safely, and we are delighted at this milestone.
“Our customers are excited about the possibility of drone deliveries and we are thrilled to be working with local families as we test and expand this technology.
“We will be conducting more delivery flights to customers from the Whangaparaoa store this week, and will use the information we gather to expand drone flights to a larger DRU Drone by Flirtey delivery area next year.
“We expect DRU Drone by Flirtey to be an essential addition to our delivery fleet.
“This will actually create jobs. As we expand, we will look to hire additional team members whose roles will be focused on drone order loading and fleet management.
“I am proud of this partnership that has not only delivered this momentous event, but is leading the world for this important technology.”
Flirtey received a Part 102 Unmanned Aircraft Operators Certificate from the Civil Aviation Authority.
Flirtey CEO Matt Sweeny said: “This is the first time a drone delivery service has been approved for store-to-door deliveries, cementing Flirtey’s position as the leader of the drone delivery industry worldwide.
“The eyes of Silicon Valley and the world are on New Zealand, which has the most forward- thinking aviation regulations, and Flirtey and Domino’s are excited to be bringing world-leading technology, international investment, and high paying jobs to New Zealand.
“We have been conducting daily testing, including final adjustments to our proprietary hardware and software, to perfect the service so that we could deliver the highest quality experience to customers in the safest possible manner.
“Flirtey will work with Domino’s to expand on today’s success, and plan to extend the dimensions, weight and distance of the deliveries in the future based on results and customer feedback.
“We are taking a ‘Crawl, Walk, Run, Fly’ approach to roll out drone delivery, and we are getting closer to the time where you can push a button on your smartphone and have Domino's delivered by DRU Drone by Flirtey to your home.
“It is so exciting to work with Domino’s and achieve this world first together. The insights that Domino’s can bring by being a world-class delivery company helps Flirtey to offer a world- class drone delivery service.” Domino’s does not anticipate any shortage of customers when they start with trials to customers.
The Company’s recent GPS Driver Tracker Polls revealed that 70 per cent of customers would use DRU Drone by Flirtey for their deliveries if given the opportunity.
The use of DRU Drone by Flirtey as a delivery method is designed to work alongside Domino’s current delivery fleet and ultimately will be fully integrated into online ordering and GPS systems.
Domino’s is looking at opportunities for drone delivery trials in its six other markets – Australia, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Japan and Germany.
From left, Scott Bush, Emma Norman, Johnny Norman, Samantha Sharif
About Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Ltd: Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Limited (DPE) was Australia’s first publicly-listed pizza company and is the master franchisor for the Domino’s brand in Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Japan and Germany. Across these seven markets, DPE and its franchisees operate more than 2,000 stores. For more information, visit
About Flirtey:
Flirtey is the world’s leading drone delivery service, with a mission to save lives and change lifestyles by making delivery instant. The startup has worked with NASA, and top universities to create the technology and logistics systems for a mass-market drone delivery network.
Flirtey was also the first company to conduct an FAA-approved delivery in the U.S., the first to perform a fully autonomous drone delivery to a home and the first to launch a commercial drone delivery service. Flirtey’s landmark achievements have been recognised by the Smithsonian Institution for display at its Air and Space Museum, which accepted a Flirtey drone to join other iconic American aircraft, including the Space Shuttle Discovery and the Wright Flyer, on display at the museum. Learn more at
Domino’s & Flirtey Partnership
Q: Why is Domino’s introducing drones?
A: We are committed to introducing DRU Drone by Flirtey as an additional delivery option for our customers. We have had such an increase in the number of deliveries we are currently doing from our stores and see a need for a new method to be added to our delivery systems. We still have a strong need for more delivery experts in our store.
The successful delivery of a customer order which took place this morning was proof that the drone delivery concept, DRU Drone by Flirtey can deliver the highest-quality meal to our customers safely.
Q. Is this Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Approved
A: Yes! Our DRU Drone delivery partner Flirtey received a Part 102 Unmanned Aircraft Operators Certificate from the Civil Aviation Authority.
Q: What are the proposed timeframes?
A: Domino’s and Flirtey have invested a great deal of time and energy into this process so far. Now we have been able to make deliveries to a customer’s house, directly from the store. The product options and delivery distance will expand throughout the trial process as we successfully complete each of our steps.
Safetly, and the quality of our products arriving to customers safely is our number one priority throughout all stages of testing and launching pizza drone deliveries.
Q: What are the steps taken to avoid theft or vandalism?
A: Flirtey’s staff work with Domino’s team members to safely load the delivery drones at the store. The drones fly autonomously at a safe altitude of approximately 60metres/200ft and the customer is notified as the delivery is approaching. The deliveries are then made to the home of the customer by safely lowering the package out of the air. This process ensures the delivery drones always remain a safe distance from the public.
Flirtey also has an inbuilt cutting mechanism so in the event someone tries to pull on the tether to interfere with the drone, it is released automatically and the DRU Drone by Flirtey is able to fly away undamaged.
Q: How smooth is the flight?
A: An in-depth trial process over an extended period will ensure we design a system that allows for all our products.
This is part of the quality standards testing we will be undertaking during our trial phase. Delivering the pizzas in the same quality they came out of the oven in the store and arrived to the customer’s door is paramount and is fundamental to the success of the drone delivery.
Q: How will quality be monitored?
A: The trial process has been designed to thoroughly test the quality of the product and ensure our high standards have been met. We will be starting with smaller distances in identified areas that allow us to thoroughly determine that the quality of our product is high and our health and safety regulations have been met. We will also work closely with customers to get their feedback throughout every stage.
Q: Is there any information on what happens with a malfunction – does this go back to the store?
A: There are various contingency plans in place depending on the location of the drone and type of issue. For example, the drone may return to the store or conduct a safe landing in a pre-designated landing area. The trial process will allow us to identify the best scenario for our particular business needs.
Q: How is it confirmed the order is received by the right person?
A: During the initial phases of the trial, we are only delivering directly to the customer’s home and the customer is notified as the delivery is arriving.
As we scale operations, we may integrate various methods of verification including capturing an image of the recipient and/or using smartphone-based methods of validation. This will be a key part of the design process and we will be able to take key learnings from our other Domino’s Robotic Units as to what the best solution for our customers.
Q: Are the deliveries with a drone weather dependent?
A: Yes, during the initial phases of the trial, we will deliver in calm weather conditions, with reduced operations during high winds and rains and traditional delivery methods will be available as a backup for customer delivery in these instances.
It is paramount to us that safety is taken into consideration always, this includes our customers receiving the orders and the general public. We will be testing the limits of our delivery process throughout the trial in a controlled test situation, and it may turn out that some areas are more suitable for a drone delivery than others. This information is exactly what we hope to learn from the trial phase.
Q: What is required at the store level for a drone to be loaded and released?
A: Initially, trained Domino’s team members will provide the customer and order information to Flirtey (including order composition, customer location and where relevant customer phone number), package the order, and then hand the package to Flirtey staff to load the drone.
As the DRU Drone by Flirtey delivery area expands, we will look to hire additional team members whose roles will be focused on drone order loading and fleet management.
Q: What land area / clearance is needed for a drone to be released?
A: There are various considerations that are required to determine if a store, and a customer’s home, is valid. The in-depth trial phase that is proposed will help us identify how we turn our theory into practice. As operations scale over time, we will work with our partner Flirtey and continue to gain the necessary regulatory approvals to increase the number of eligible stores.
Q: What speed and range can the drones go to?
A: During the ongoing trials, our drones will operate at approximately 30km/h and at an initial radius of 1.5km from select stores. As we work with Flirtey to expand regulatory approvals, this radius will increase incrementally up to approximately 10km from select stores.
Q: What are the requirements for a Drone around 3G/4G or satellite connectivity?
A: We require reliable GPS and prefer to be in range of 3G/4G network (although this is not a formal requirement). We are working with our existing GPS partner, Navman, to integrate into our existing system to offer a seamless experience for our customers.
Q: Will these have security features on them?
A: Safety of both the customer and public is paramount as with DRU. Therefore, Flirtey drones use military grade autopilot technology and encrypted communications.
Q: Will these have cameras on them?
A: Our partner, Flirtey, has worked with the office of the Privacy Commissioner in New Zealand and actively participated in developing Voluntary Best Practices for UAS Privacy, Transparency, and Accountability in collaboration with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration in the United States. Let us be clear, we record in-flight footage only for the purposes of reviewing in an incident, otherwise it is wiped.
Q: How close can the drones work to an Airport?
A: Deliveries close to an airport are not part of these trials. Future delivery areas will be decided on a case-by-case basis in collaboration with CAA and safety is paramount in all our operations.
Q: What stage of development is DRU at?
A: DRU stands for Domino’s Robotic Unit and is much more than the wonderful Robot we launched in March. He was the beginning of our journey nit he Artificial Intelligence space and will always have a place in the Domino’s delivery solution, however we are committed to bringing new solutions to our business. These new solutions will all be part of our commitment to the DRU family, such as the drones, who will be referred to as DRU Drone by Flirtey.
Our original DRU is still undergoing testing in a semi-autonomous manner. We are committed to progressing his development, however as he was the first in the world of his kind we are discovering new things about him all the time and working with customer’s feedback to make changes and enhancements.
Q: What if I don’t want it delivered by drone/prefer human interaction?
A: While 70% of customers surveyed said they would love to have a DRU Drone by Flirtey pizza delivery we understand that some customers may want to receive their pizza by traditional delivery methods. Domino’s can confirm that delivery by drone is an opt-in service and customers will have a choice of whether to receive their order by drone or not.
Q: When will you be rolling out DRU Drone by Flirtey in Australia/other markets?
A: Domino’s would love to continue to trial and rollout DRU Drone by Flirtey deliveries in the Australian market as well as other markets in which we operate. We are in discussions with various governments, and government agencies. The current legislation does not allow for these types of trials in Australia currently. We hope to work closely with these government bodies so that we can deliver to Australian customers in the future.

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