British retailer Tesco is in the process of taking their new delivery drones out for a trial test run. The drones are set to fly at an altitude of 80 metres with a speed of 50 mph to deliver shopping items up to 4 kg in weight to customers a mile away at just 3 minutes upon ordering. The drones are scheduled to be launched into service next month catering to the customers of its Oranmore store in County Galway, Ireland.
The flying delivery bots are designed to transport "small baskets" of goods which the company sees as a potential trend in the UK worth about £10 billion in the coming years. Teaming up with drone delivery company Manna, Tesco will be conducting trial runs for a period of six months, BBC reports.
Manna initially planned to test the drones for takeaway food delivery in March, but focused on medical necessities brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. The drones have already started doing medicine and prescription delivery trials in Ireland along with other essential supplies in the town of Moneygall.
This isn't the first time drones have been used to deliver goods. In 2016, online retail giant Amazon pioneered the very first commercial drone delivery in the UK. The drone was able to deliver within 13 minutes upon order placement from its fulfillment centre in Cambridge to a local resident. Its first successful Prime Air drone delivery was for a TV streaming stick and a bag of popcorn directly transported to the garden of a customer.
In April 2020, the UK government announced its intent to use larger unmanned vehicles to deliver essential hospital supplies from the mainland to the Isle of Wight. However, the drone trials have also met some opposition from residents who find the aircrafts intrusive and noisy. An Institution of Mechanical Engineers reported that only a quarter of UK residents support the use of drone deliveries, citing noise issues and safety concerns.
Should Manna expand its drone delivery services, this may eventually require the company to seek approval from the Irish Aviation Authority. However, despite the seeming lack of support, many food retailers around the world believe in following the footsteps of Amazon's drone deliveries.
Walmart, which owns the UK supermarket chain Asda, said they are keen on running a similar grocery delivery project and are looking to team up with drone delivery tech firm Flytrex.