- The food delivery company Just Eat claims to be the first-ever to deliver a takeaway meal by drone, which in this instance wasn't via the typical airborne device but instead a six-wheeled robot, as reported by Venture Beat.
- Just Eat's drone was created by Starship Technologies, which has been testing the self-driving vehicle in the U.S. and Europe for the past year. Just Eat and Starship first partnered in July.
- Just Eat’s delivery was a Turkish takeaway meal to a Greenwich, London, address, where the machine will continue testing with limited availability. The recipient of the delivery was not expecting to be greeted by a robot but was pleasantly surprised by the technology, which texts users before arriving and requires a code to access the food it's carrying.
Domino’s already successfully delivered a pizza via drone in New Zealand last month after partnering with drone company Flirtey, but Just Eat may not consider that a proper "meal" given its recent announcement. Just Eat's effort is admittedly impressive, offering a fully-automated, full-service experience including customer alerts for when the food arrives.
According to a report from November, Domino’s hopes to bring drone delivery to Australia, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Japan and Germany, with internal polls showing 70% of its customers were open to delivery via drone devices. Heavy airspace regulations will likely stymie those efforts stateside.
The wheeled device option used by Just Eat would avoid some of the regulatory issues that face flying drones, but would also be more subject to vandalism, sabotage or theft since the robot would be accessible on the street level, per Venture Beat. Despite those concerns, Just Eat intends to expand its drone delivery service, showing how automated technologies are increasingly taking over not just the digital aspects of business but some of the physical-world components, too.
With tech giant Amazon on record as being heavily invested in drone delivery at least at the conceptual level, and drone deliveries by both flying and wheeled robots passing proof of concept via real-world testing, at least one thing is clear: Drones look to be a major part of delivery's future.