Latin American food delivery service iFood announced today it has received full regulatory approval from Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) to operate two drone food delivery routes in the city of Campinas.
IFood is working with drone company Speedbird Aero, and according to the announcement materials, this is the first time drone-assisted food deliveries have been okayed in Latin America.
The drone deliveries are set to start this October, but the food won’t be going directly to customers’ front door. IFood will use a hybrid approach that includes both drones and last-mile ground transportation. For the first route, drones will fly from a food court in Igautemi Campinas, a large shopping complex, to an iFood Hub roughly 400 meters away. It will take the drones two minutes to fly and drop off the food at the hub, which will then be picked up by drivers for final delivery.
This combination of drone + ground transport is the same approach that Uber is taking with its drone delivery here in the U.S. The advantage of flying drones between two set points is that it is just one flight path, so you don’t have to jump through as many regulatory hoops to ensure drones don’t fly over things like schools or first responder facilities.
It’s been a busy year for drone delivery as this type of service moves from theoretical to more realistic. Manna started making food deliveries by drone in Dublin, Ireland. Flytrex has been doing similar work in Iceland and making its first moves into the U.S. And drone delivery of groceries is coming to Rouses Market in Mobile, Alabama.
To be sure, we are still a ways off before we see (and hear) drones buzzing overhead bringing us our daily lattes. But with the COVID-19 pandemic still surging and re-surging in the U.S. and elsewhere, off-premesis restaurant eating is only going to get more popular as dining rooms are shunned or forced to close down.
A combination of technology advancements and societal conditions means that the sky could soon be the limit for food delivery by drone.