Pizza Hut Is Testing Drone Delivery in Israel
For advocates of drone technology, the idea that autonomous aerial vehicles will be delivering us everything from Amazon packages to fast food orders is often discussed as inevitable. Meanwhile, skeptics have always wondered, "How will it work? Crazy drones flying everywhere! And what if one dropped on my head?"
This June, Pizza Hut Israel says they plan to make drones a legitimate part of their business with a new trial, but even the company behind the technology admits the skeptics aren't entirely wrong.
"Drone delivery is a sexy thing to talk about, but it's not realistic to think we're going to see drones flying all over the sky dropping pizzas into everyone's backyards anytime soon," Ido Levanon, CEO and director for Dragontail Systems, which will be handling the drone trial, told the Wall Street Journal.
Instead, the WSJ writes that Pizza Hut will use drones "to drop multiple orders at government-approved landing zones, such as designated spaces in parking lots." Old school drivers then handle the last leg of the journey to get these pizzas to the actual customers. Interestingly, this hub system is extremely similar to one touted by Uber Eats in San Diego in 2019.
For the Israeli drone test, the country's Ministry of Transportation is reportedly only allowing drones to fly from one restaurant and only within a specific 50-square-mile "air bubble." In all, Pizza Hut Israel stated that these drones should allow this location to deliver to about 7,000 more households. (Whether these people actually want to order Pizza Hut, drones or not, isn't mentioned.)
And whether this program will continue to "take off" is also "up in the air." Beyond expanding the range of the program, Pizza Hut Israel said the government would also have to increase weight limits to make the project more feasible. Currently, orders would max out at about two pizzas and a bottle of soda.
So far, drones and pizzas have yet to successfully mix. In 2016, Domino's New Zealand claimed to become the "world's first company to offer a commercial drone delivery service," but the Wall Street Journal confirmed that, five years later, the company still isn't using drones—proving that, for years, drones have been good for publicity but not very practical.
However, Dragontail Systems is already touting their autonomous drones for use elsewhere – saying they are especially suited for the COVID-19 pandemic. "This technology is vital to the current crisis impacting the restaurant industry," Levanon added in a press release. "Our drone deliveries provide restaurants and delivery drivers an opportunity to reach an extended customer base while doing so in a safe and cost-effective manner."
Meanwhile, this project isn't Dragontail Systems' first foray into the pizza biz: Back in 2017, the tech company began supplying Domino's with their Pizza Checker which uses AI software to assure pizzas come out as planned.