Tesco has announced it will begin drone delivery trials that could see items distributed to customers homes within 30 minutes of ordering.
Set to launch next month, the drones will initially operate out of the Tesco branch at Oranmore, County Galway. Customers ordering items online would then receive their goods in “small baskets” attached to the aerial vehicles.
Tesco is working with drone technology company Manna as part of the initiative. Manna, which has offices in Ireland and Wales, has already carried out delivery trials during the coronavirus pandemic – helping to distribute prescriptions in the town of Moneygall.
Dave Lewis, Chief Executive of Tesco, commented: “They [Manna] have already proven the capability, the question is how do we take that capability and apply it to Tesco and that’s the detail that’s been worked on now before we get to the trial.”
Claire Lorains, group innovation director at Tesco, added: “We are interested to see how drones could be part of the solution to deliver to our customers on-demand small baskets.
“If our trial with Manna is successful, we believe there is an opportunity to reach many customers through our stores, extending via our drone service.”
Tesco delivery drones will be capable of reaching speeds up to 50mph and deliver four kilograms of shopping at a time. Items will be held in a small cargo hold fitted beneath the drone.
The supermarket giant estimates the drones will be able to deliver goods up to a mile away in a mere matter of minutes, thereby greatly improving efficiency and getting items to a customer’s doorstep far quicker than conventional delivery methods.
Tesco’s drone ambitions follow news that Amazon has received federal approval in the United States to begin ‘Prime Air’ trials.
The eCommerce giant has accrued thousands of flight hours in recent months as it prepared to secure approval. Amazon said it will now begin its own delivery tests with the aim of making air deliveries in 20 minutes or less.
- Delivery drones will begin transporting medical supplies to Scottish Islands
- Amazon secures federal approval to trial delivery drones in the US
- Comment | Using drones in Scotland
In Scotland, drones have also been used during the coronavirus pandemic to deliver goods to some of the country’s most isolated communities.
In May, drone technology firm Skyports began delivering equipment between the Lorn and Islands Hospital in Oban and the Mull & Iona Community Hospital at Craigmure. Equipment delivered as part of the scheme included face masks and vital Covid-19.