Mumbai-based restaurant Francesco’s Pizzeria has made the first drone delivery, sending a pizza to a customer 1.5 km earlier this month, NDTV reports. While this delivery was just a test run, the restaurant intends to offer regular drone deliveries within the next few years.
“All of us had read about Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)’s plans of using drones. We successfully carried out a test-delivery by sending a pizza to a customer located 1.5 km away from our outlet on May 11,” said Francesco’s Pizzeria CEO Mikhel Rajani.
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Amazon’s drones aren’t nearly as fantastical as you may have thought
When Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) announced late last year that it was developing a fleet of drones to deliver products right to your doorstep (in some urban areas, at least) it sounded like a bit of science fiction, but the United Parcel Service, Inc. (NYSE:UPS) and others quickly jumped onboard saying that would also like to use drones to smooth out logistics in areas with heavy traffic. That some of the world’s best known companies got scooped by a pizza restaurant shows that commercial drones could already be a reality (for better or worse) if regulations were hammered out, something the Federal Aviation Authority is currently working on. For something that’s normally portrayed as proof of military tech prowess, it’s surprising to learn how mundane the technology is becoming.
Rajani’s drone cost less than a Vespa
But the most surprising part of this story is the cost: Rajani says that a custom drone costs about $2000 to put together. That’s not just less expensive than a car, there are road bikes that cost more than that. Fuel and maintenance costs could shift the balance, but drones might actually be the more cost efficient way of making deliveries in dense cities. No wonder Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) is so eager to get them up and running.
And that’s before we even enter into heavy manufacturing and economies of scale. The idea that a drone could cost less than a high end computer in the next few years is a little bit terrifying (and much less cool than the promise of hoverboards). Hopefully the FAA will make licensing requirements stringent enough that we don’t have sky full of drones zipping about (or into each other), but the age of commercial drone use is just around the corner.