Meal delivery by drone is coming to the outskirts of Dublin, Ireland at the end of March, courtesy of the Irish startup, Manna, reports Bloomberg. Manna will run hundreds of tests flights with different food partners to make deliveries to the University College Dublin campus over the next few weeks as part of a bigger plan to provide permanent service to small Irish towns.
Manna’s MNA-1090 drone operates similarly to the Google Wing drone, in that it hovers above its destination and lowers its package on a retractable tether. According to Blooomberg the Manna drone can carry a meal payload weighing 4.4 pounds, and can make a delivery more than 2 kilometers out in under three minutes, even in inclement weather.
Drones are set to have a pretty big year in food delivery. In addition to Manna’s impending takeoff, Unilever, through its Ben & Jerry’s brand, has partnered with Terra Drone Europe for airborne ice cream tests. Uber Eats is planning to launch its drone food delivery in San Diego this summer. And the aforementioned Google Wing is already making deliveries in Virginia.
Questions remain, however, about the ultimately viability of drone delivery. Regulations around toting pizza pies in the skies has yet to be worked out (though startups like Air Space Link are helping sort that out). Then there is the very real issue of privacy and noise and how people will react to fleets of drones flying over their houses.
The promise of drones, however, according to Manna, is that they can provide fast, big city-type food delivery to smaller towns at a lower cost. This, in turn will make delivery more profitable and drone operations more scalable.
If drones can provide a lower cost way of getting a piping hot burrito delivered to people’s patio, all the hindrances might just be forgiven.