DoorDash announces it’s trying drone deliveries

A food delivery worker rides off after a pickup from a fast-food restaurant on Brooklyn's Flatbush Avenue, Monday, Jan. 29, 2024, in New York. A wage law in New York City meant to protect food delivery workers is getting backlash from app companies like Uber, GrubHub and DoorDash.
A food delivery worker rides off after a pickup from a fast-food restaurant on Brooklyn's Flatbush Avenue, Monday, Jan. 29, 2024, in New York. A wage law in New York City meant to protect food delivery workers is getting backlash from app companies like Uber, GrubHub and DoorDash. | Bebeto Matthews

A new announcement from DoorDash this week revealed that it is now starting deliveries with the drone company Wing in the United States after its success in Australia. The first restaurant to participate will be Wendy’s in Christiansburg, Virginia.

How will drone delivery work?

Business Insider explains that customers must use the DoorDash app and order from the Wendy’s location at 2355 N. Franklin Street in Christiansburg. During the checkout phase, there will be an option for drone delivery, with a standard time of less than 30 minutes. Axios reports that drone deliveries are free for now.

The head of partnerships at Wing, Cosimo Leipold, shared with Business Insider that drone deliveries won’t need insulation. The drones carry the deliveries using a tether and rise to a height of 150 feet. Then when it reaches its destination, the drone will lower to a height of 23 feet and lower the meal to the ground, where it disconnects from the tether.

Leipold said that no human intervention will be needed to unclip the meal from the drone and that their drones have multiple modes to accommodate fragile packages such as eggs or drinks.

Are drone deliveries successful?

Fast-food drone deliveries are not very common in the U.S. Other companies have tried out drone deliveries, such as Walgreens and Amazon, per Business Insider.

In 2022, Chick-fil-A started its own drone deliveries in Texas and North Carolina, and then expanded to Florida in 2023, according to Business Insider. Customers in select locations were able to order a drone delivery from the Chick-fil-A app.

But in other places in the world, it has become normal. Before their test run in Virginia, Wing and DoorDash had been testing out drone deliveries in Australia starting back in 2022, which has then expanded to three different Australian locations with over 60 partnerships, per DoorDash.

Leipold shared in a statement, “Wing has now made over 350,000 deliveries across three countries.”

Other countries see fast-food drone deliveries as a common thing. In Shenzhen, China, the drone company Meituan has created successful drone deliveries in dense urban neighborhoods full of skyscrapers, per MIT Technology Review.

They accomplish this by creating pick-up kiosks, where drones leave the food orders, normally located outside of a building, and customers pick up their order from there. This allows the drones to always follow a constant predetermined path.

Axios reports that drone delivery can help decrease pollution and road congestion while satisfying America’s need of instant gratification. The Federal Aviation Administration has been focusing on creating regulations for future drone deliveries, per Axios. DoorDash is hoping to expand its drone delivery to other locations in the U.S. later this year.