Holy Flying Pies! Domino's Drops Pizzas From the Sky

Domino’s Pizza this week pulled off the first delivery-by-drone to customers in Whangapraoa, New Zealand. The chain air-dropped a Peri-Peri Chicken pizza and a Chicken and Cranberry pizza into the back yard of Emma and Johnny Norman on Wednesday morning, the company announced.

Media reports are describing it as the first-ever pizza delivery by drone, but Russian pizza chain, Dodo Pizza, accomplished a similar feat in 2014. Even so, Alena Tikhova, the manager of Dodo’s one shop in the United States (in Oxford, Mississippi), says the Domino’s drop-off is still a first. “Technically, they are the first ones in drone delivery to a particular customer, to this couple’s house,” Tikhova explained. “What we did was a drone delivery to a public area, a local park.” (The confusion arises in part because American media reports about Dodo’s drone delivery incorrectly stated that the pizzas were delivered to “customers.” In fact, a large crowd had assembled in the park to witness the historic delivery, as shown in the video further down on this page.)

According to Domino’s, the flying pie landed at 11:19 a.m., Auckland time, after less than five minutes in the air. Domino’s worked with a drone service called Flirtey to make it happen. “We invested in this partnership and technology because we believe drone delivery will be an essential component of our pizza deliveries,” said Don Meij, Domino’s Group CEO and Managing Director. “They can avoid traffic congestion and traffic lights and safely reduce the delivery time and distance by traveling directly to customers’ homes. This is the future.”

Here’s how CNN.com describes the process: “A Domino’s customer who requests a drone delivery will receive a notification when their delivery is approaching. After going outside and hitting a button on their smartphone, the drone will lower the food via a tether. Once the package is released, the drone pulls the tether back up and flies back to the Domino’s store.” 

So does that mean automation will cost more jobs? Not necessarily, Meij says. “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.”

Domino’s may charge an additional fee for drone delivery, CNN reports, but the longterm goal is to provide the service at no cost.

There seem to be no plans to offer drone delivery in the U.S. anytime soon. Domino’s said it will be looking to expand the service in Australia, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Japan and Germany. 

Meanwhile, Dodo Pizza’s first drone delivery in Russia was its last. Authorities later determined that the use of airspace for pizza delivery violated the country’s laws and made Dodo pay a fine.

Watch the video of Dodo's first drone drop-off below!