Uber Drone Delivery Begins Testing This Summer

Your next takeout order could be delivered by drone in just a few months. Uber is performing drone delivery test trials in San Diego this summer, pending approval from the FAA.

The drone will not deliver food to customers’ doors during these preliminary trials. Instead, the drone will arrive at a designated safe landing zone where an Uber courier will retrieve your order and complete the delivery. Uber Elevate, the team handling drone delivery, intends to use this method to reduce the chance of noise pollution, collisions, devices and packages falling midair, and other safety concerns. Delivery boxes are crafted with carefully selected packaging materials that keep food warm throughout the trip.

Uber appears confident that the technology will become the new norm. According to data from previous company tests with McDonald’s, drones are three times as fast as other modes of transportation. Drones can travel 1.5 miles in seven minutes. With a driver or cyclist, such a trip takes about 21 minutes on average.

According to Eric Allison, Uber’s head of aerial projects, the company has invested in this technology in large part because of the growing popularity of Uber Eats. Allison believes drone delivery will give Uber Eats the edge over its competition, with “selection, quality, and efficiency” drastically improving thanks to the advent of drones. Uber analysts predict that within the next ten years, fast food restaurants will have completely remodeled their kitchens to better suit the needs of drone delivery.

Not far behind, Google has already been performing drone deliveries in Finland and Australia through its offshoot Project Wing. FedEx is developing a food delivery robot, and intends to partner with Pizza Hut, Walmart, and Walgreens in the endeavor.

Ever looking forward, Uber Elevate is also in the process of designing flying taxi technology. Test flights are tentatively planned for 2020 with an anticipated commercial launch in 2023.

Research by:

Paul Barron

Paul Barron

Editor-in-Chief/Executive Producer


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Why Chains are Rolling out Virtual Kitchens

As restaurants ramp up off-premise business, the more orders kitchens have to accommodate for.

Starbucks and Chick-fil-A hire staff members specifically to handle mobile orders, but some brands are investing entirely in separate spaces strictly allocated for off-premise operations.

Chick-fil-A, Outback, Famous Dave's and Dog Haus are some of the chains using virtual kitchens as a solution to the influx of delivery sales. By prepping some of these orders off-site, it allows in-store kitchens to focus on in-store orders.

“Delivery is the hottest word out there in the food scene, and everyone needs to figure out how to adapt to it,” said Andre Verner, Dog Haus partner to “Restaurant Dive.”

According to Foodable Labs, over 30 percent of the U.S. Restaurant industry is using some form of on-demand third-party ordering solution.

But that number is still relatively low considering the number of consumers ordering delivery. Over 80 percent of consumers under the age of 35 are using on-demand food ordering apps about two times a week. Not to mention, as "Restaurant Dive" points out, according to Food On Demand, delivery sales are 75 percent higher than in-store sales. So there's a lot of potential in the off-premise market.

This is influencing established chains to jump on the virtual restaurant bandwagon.

"The Halal Guys and Canter’s Deli have spots at Kitchen United’s Pasadena, California, location. And Wetzel’s Pretzels, which partnered with Kitchen United in April, has already experienced growth in off-premise and in-store sales," writes "Restaurant Dive."

Want to learn more about these concepts? Listen to this recent episode of The Takeout, Delivery and Catering Show, where hosts explain the benefits of these virtual restaurants, also called ghost restaurants and how they are changing off-premise operations.

Modern Market Launches its Own In-House Delivery Service

As third-party delivery services continue to increase fees and monthly pricing, the more restaurants are investing in developing their own internal delivery platforms.

The fast casual Modern Market is the latest restaurant to unveil its new in-house ordering & delivery platform.

With a focus on catering and larger orders, delivery will be free for orders of $50 or more and the system has a feature that allows a host to invite other participants to add their own individual order to a larger group order.

As we mentioned, Modern Market is one of many to buck the trend of partnering with third-party delivery apps.

Food delivery apps like Uber Eats, Postmates, seamless and DoorDash have become wildly popular in the last few years. These apps make up 40 percent of the 20 most-used apps. Uber Eats made $7.9 billion in gross in 2018, according to Uber's recent IPO prospectus.

These apps offer consumers multiple food options to pick from. Users don't even have to have a restaurant or type of cuisine in mind before using the app, making it a perfect option for the indecisive eater.

From a restaurant standpoint, these apps are an easy solution to the delivery problem. By partnering with a delivery app, you can offer your customers the convenience of delivery without investing in a team of drivers or an expensive platform to process these orders.

"Managing delivery in-house, however, can be difficult and costly too. Hiring drivers, scheduling, making sure orders are fulfilled on time and creating the software that helps tie all these dots together is a large undertaking and can lead to serious issues if executed poorly," writes "Restaurant Dive."

Even though the third-party services have made it easier for brands to offer delivery, they do cut significantly into profits.

As more restaurants partner with third-party delivery apps, the more these companies' can increase fees. Not to mention, a restaurant definitely loses some of the control of these orders. It's up to the third-party's delivery driver to get the food and bring it to the guest in the estimated time frame. So the service aspect and food quality are heavily dependent on the delivery provider, not the restaurant.

So it’s no wonder that more restaurants, like Panera Bread, are shifting away from these services and developing their own.

But as "Restaurant Dive" points out, Modern Market is taking a risk by going the in-house delivery route.

"Another danger that Modern Market will have to consider is whether eschewing popular apps like Uber Eats, which compile delivery offerings from multiple restaurants, will prevent it from being as competitive as possible," writes "Restaurant Dive"

Deciding to go with a third-party delivery or investing in an in-house platform isn't an easy decision.

Learn more about the restaurant’s in-house ordering & delivery platform in the video above!

"Managing delivery in-house, however, can be difficult and costly too. Hiring drivers, scheduling, making sure orders are fulfilled on time and creating the software that helps tie all these dots together is a large undertaking and can lead to serious issues if executed poorly," writes "Restaurant Dive."

Even though the third-party services have made it easier for brands to offer delivery, they do cut significantly into profits.

As more restaurants partner with third-party delivery apps, the more these companies' can increase fees. Not to mention, a restaurant definitely loses some of the control of these orders. It's up to the third-party's delivery driver to get the food and bring it to the guest in the estimated time frame. So the service aspect and food quality are heavily dependent on the delivery provider, not the restaurant.

So it’s no wonder that more restaurants, like Panera Bread, are shifting away from these services and developing their own.

But as "Restaurant Dive" points out, Modern Market is taking a risk by going the in-house delivery route.

"Another danger that Modern Market will have to consider is whether eschewing popular apps like Uber Eats, which compile delivery offerings from multiple restaurants, will prevent it from being as competitive as possible," writes "Restaurant Dive"

Deciding to go with a third-party delivery or investing in an in-house platform isn't an easy decision.

Learn more about the restaurant’s in-house ordering & delivery platform in the video above!

"Managing delivery in-house, however, can be difficult and costly too. Hiring drivers, scheduling, making sure orders are fulfilled on time and creating the software that helps tie all these dots together is a large undertaking and can lead to serious issues if executed poorly," writes "Restaurant Dive."

Even though the third-party services have made it easier for brands to offer delivery, they do cut significantly into profits.

As more restaurants partner with third-party delivery apps, the more these companies' can increase fees. Not to mention, a restaurant definitely loses some of the control of these orders. It's up to the third-party's delivery driver to get the food and bring it to the guest in the estimated time frame. So the service aspect and food quality are heavily dependent on the delivery provider, not the restaurant.

So it’s no wonder that more restaurants, like Panera Bread, are shifting away from these services and developing their own.

But as "Restaurant Dive" points out, Modern Market is taking a risk by going the in-house delivery route.

"Another danger that Modern Market will have to consider is whether eschewing popular apps like Uber Eats, which compile delivery offerings from multiple restaurants, will prevent it from being as competitive as possible," writes "Restaurant Dive"

Deciding to go with a third-party delivery or investing in an in-house platform isn't an easy decision.

Learn more about the restaurant’s in-house ordering & delivery platform in the video above!