Pizza delivery boys, meet your worst nightmare. The New Zealand branch of Domino’s has revealed a flying pizza delivery drone—and it should be ready to drop steaming-hot pies at customers’ doorsteps by the end of the year.
The Domino’s hexacopter was demonstrated for reporters in Auckland on Thursday. The airborne pizza-delivery vehicle was developed in conjunction with Flirtey, a U.S.-based drone delivery company with a name The Drive assumes was taken from a dating app.
The DRU Drone, as it’s called, is made from a combination of aluminum, carbon fiber, and 3D-printed materials. When making a delivery, it lowers its precious pizza cargo to the ground via tether, thus presumably keeping hanxious customers from being sliced and diced by the propellers.
“We’ve always said that it doesn’t make sense to have a 2-ton machine delivering a 2-kg order,” Domino’s CEO Don Meij said, according to The Guardian. (That said, he didn’t stop his company from developing a custom-made pizza delivery car with a built-in warming oven.)
Assuming the company begins offering the service to customers in late 2016 as is the current plan, the pizza delivery drone should make Domino’s the first major company to offer commercial delivery via flying robot. But they’re hardly the only ones working on it; Amazon and Google, among numerous other companies, have been experimenting with the idea, and Flirtey has signed a deal with 7-11 to deliver items to customers in the near future.
Last year, New Zealand became one of the first nations on Earth to legalize commercial deliveries by drone. New Federal Aviation Administration regulations that go into effect on August 29th will clear the way for some forms of commercial flying robot delivery services here in the United States, but they will still be limited by rules such as a requirement that the drone remain within the operator’s sight at all times.
While bringing pies to the skies is a new development in the War on Healthy Eating, the flying pizza robot isn’t the first instance of Domino’s launching an autonomous delivery vehicle in the Pacific Rim. Earlier this year, the brand revealed a wheeled pizza delivery robot in Australia capable of traveling more than 12 miles on a charge. That autonomous pizza carrier was also dubbed DRU, which technically stands for “Domino’s Robotic Unit.” We anxiously await the arrival of the shape-shifting liquid-metal DRU-1000.