Deliveroo is looking into using drones to for deliveries, the company’s CEO William Shu said on Monday.
Speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt in London, Shu said that the company has “met a few people” about the prospect — although stressed that it’s “not a serious thing” at this point of time.
So don’t expect your Deliveroo meal to arrive via drone any time soon: Shu gave no timeframe for when the tech might find its way to its customers. It hasn’t got any further than “a few meetings.”
But it’s a sign of which way the wind is blowing: Companies increasingly view drones as the future of delivery services.
Amazon is easily the most high-profile company to consider using drones to deliver goods. It recently unveiled a new prototype of the drone it hopes to use one day to deliver products to customers extremely quickly.
Any company that wants to make drone deliveries a commercial reality has a plethora of technical and regulatory hurdles to overcome. The promise of drone deliveries is that they’re cheap and fast, without having to rely on drivers and delivery people — so the software needs to be managed autonomously. What if one malfunctions and drops out the sky?
The UK’s drone regulation is relatively lax compared to the US, and Jeff Bezos has praised the country as a “very encouraging example of good regulation.” Amazon does much of its drone development in Britain; at one point, it took Amazon so long to get a licence in the US that by the time it was issued, the drone in question was already obsolete.
Deliveroo, as a UK-based company, could reap the benefits of the British regulatory environment if and when its plans get off the drawing board. Shu, while stressing it’s not yet “serious,” suggested the tech could be used to expand the company into “less densely populated areas we couldn’t service today.”
Also speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt, Bastian Lehmann, CEO of delivery startup Postmates — which is launching in London next year — said the company has also had early discussions about using drones. However, Lehmann said these efforts haven’t yet progressed beyond delivering coffee inside the company HQ.
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