I should apologize. In a post published on The Spoon this morning, I asked How Are You Getting Your Groceries? Delivery, Curbside Pickup or In-Store? In doing so, I failed to include “by drone delivery” among the choices, and it looks like I should have, at least, if you live in Mobile, Alabama.
Rouses Market, which has 64 stores along the Gulf Coast, announced yesterday that it has partnered with Deuce Drone to test grocery delivery by drone in Mobile this Fall (tip of the hat to Grocery Dive, who first reported the story). According to the press release, the drones will be able to deliver groceries in under 30 minutes.
There are plenty of other drone delivery programs in various stages of deployment around the world, but Rouses’ is the first we know of that’s specifically for groceries. In Ireland, Manna is doing restaurant delivery. Ditto for Uber in San Diego. Google’s Wing did latte delivery in Canberra, Australia. And in India, food delivery company Zomato acquired drone company TechEagle.
The press announcement didn’t specify anything around flight range or how much cargo each drone flight could/would carry. So we don’t know if it can replace a full trip to the grocery store or not (probably not, given how heavy groceries can get). We’ve reached out to Deuce Drone for more details. UPDATE: Deuce Drone sent us the following via email:
The drone currently being used for early development has a payload capability up to 12 lbs and will be used in the planned early demonstrations and revenue tests. Longer term, we plan to use a range of drones that are or will be available on the market that give us payload efficient payload ranges in the 0 to 2.5 lb, 2.5 lb to 10 lb, 10 to 25 lb and greater than 25 lb. Range for the current drone with full payload is about 6 miles one way at a maximum speed of nearly 40 mph.
But even with those considerations, Rouses’ grocery drone delivery is coming at the right time. With the pandemic forcing people to stay at home, they are turning to online grocery shopping in record numbers. All of those orders need to be fulfilled whether its through delivery or curbside pickup. Adding fast drone delivery, especially for smaller basket sizes, could ease logistical congestion and make curbside and delivery fulfillment more efficient.
So if you live in Mobile, by all means, let us know if you’re going to get your groceries by drone.