Standard delivery, appointment delivery, pickup… and drone delivery?
Most grocery delivery apps only offer these first three options. But DoorDash (NYSE: DASH) on Monday launched an on-demand drone delivery pilot in Logan, Australia, with Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL) subsidiary Wing, which has operated in the Brisbane suburb since 2019.
It’s the first time the drone delivery provider has made its service available through a third-party app.
Customers can now place convenience orders, groceries, snacks and household items directly from the DoorDash app and select the drone delivery option when prompted. Then the app displays a satellite image of the client’s home and allows the user to drag and place a drop-off marker.
From there, a Wing drone will typically complete the delivery in less than 15 minutes. The drones will carry a payload of just under 2.5 pounds, according to DoorDash, and travel at speeds of nearly 70 miles per hour. Orders are tracked via GPS location, just like the app’s ground-based service.
The limited service, dubbed DoorDash Air, rolled out to select households in Logan this week, but the companies plan to expand availability in the coming months.
“While Wing has traditionally provided delivery services directly to consumer and business customers, to further accelerate our technology evolution, we will increasingly work with marketplaces and logistics partners to expand their delivery options and make rapid drone delivery affordable and sustainable for them, and their customers,” said Simon Rossi, general manager of Wing Australia.
Wing said in a blog post that it has been working on integrating with a third-party app like DoorDash for a while. Outside of the partnership, the company has also worked to move its operations closer to distributors and retailers to open up the service to marketplaces.
Watch: Drones in the backyard
In Australia, for example, Wing has built a drone delivery station on the roof of a local mall so deliveries can be made from a central hub. It has also been working on a store-to-door model in the US, staging drones in small hangars at retail locations. Walmart, for example, has them on rooftops and in parking lots and other adjacent areas.
By adding this layer of infrastructure, companies like Wing have found a way to make drone delivery more attractive to merchants, as they can reach their local customer base in as little as 15 minutes. This, in turn, makes the service attractive to consumers, which drives demand.
“Drone delivery can be an excellent complement to our ground delivery services,” said Rebecca Burrows, general manager of DoorDash’s Australian business. “Delivery drones create a fast, efficient delivery option for smaller orders weighing just over a kilo, and offloads ground delivery services for larger deliveries, offering drivers better compensation.”
DoorDash has slammed the idea of drones taking orders from human couriers in a press release. It has been argued that drones will handle small, short-range orders – which tend to deliver smaller tips – while freeing up couriers to handle more valuable orders.
The company also hinted that similar efforts are on the horizon, noting that “DoorDash views automation as a means of building the right platform solution to meet consumer demand around the world while improving efficiency within the platform.” .”
Could a drone delivery service in the US be part of this plan? Wing currently has commercial operations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and is testing additional services in Virginia. With DoorDash also doing heavy business in the US, groundbreaking is being done for an on-demand drone delivery pilot in one of those two states.
DoorDash has previously piloted a robotic delivery service with Starship Technologies, which has brought microwave-sized delivery robots to college campuses across the country. And last November, it launched an automation arm, DoorDash Labs, that builds its own robot.
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