To help deliver food through the skies, Uber is reportedly trying out drones. Uber Elevate, a division of the ridehailing firm, is testing out the idea to help bring faster deliveries to its Uber Eats platform, BGR reported.
As of now, delivery partners visit a restaurant, retrieve an order and bring it to a customer by using cars, motorcycles or even bicycles. Drones, however, may be able to speed up the process, while making it less expensive and more efficient over the long term. To that end, Uber has reportedly become a part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Integration Pilot Program as a “drone delivery participant.”
Food delivery is a $13 billion business in the U.S., one seeing growing interest from various players, ranging from delivery service companies like Deliveroo to ride-hailing giants like Uber. Innovation is largely focused on making ordering and paying seamless, and as such, delivery times remain high, leaving customers frustrated and resulting in restaurants missing out on opportunities to fill more orders.
That’s a problem that drone delivery company Flytrex is aiming to solve in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). The pair is slated to test commercial deliveries using unmanned aerial vehicles in Holly Springs, North Caroline. Under a drone delivery model, customers order food through a restaurant’s app and runners take the meal to a central drone launch location. From there, the drone will fly to the customer’s home, and can be tracked via an app. Flytrex’s drones can carry a six-pound package for three miles and arrive in five to 10 minutes, Yariv Bash, CEO of Flytrex, told PYMNTS in a interview.
Once the drone has arrived, the customer will receive a notification and, using a feature integrated with the restaurant’s app or a link provided by Flytrex, direct the drone to lower the package via a wire. An operator can control up to five drones at a time using a control center dashboard, which means managing more trips with less effort and faster transport for restaurants.