Where you can get sushi and waffle makers delivered by drone

New service in Iceland is being called the first-ever drone delivery system deployed in an urban environment.

Ordering a pizza and waiting 30 minutes for it to be delivered is so yesterday. Who has time to wait that long for delicious, gooey cheesiness? What if you could cut that time in half and have it delivered by drone?

That's exactly what the salivating citizens of Reykjavík, Iceland, are looking forward to finding out. The country's popular online marketplace known as AHA already works with more than 100 restaurants and grocery stores to deliver items to hungry customers. Up until now, they've been making those deliveries the old-fashioned way: by cars. But now, they'll also be adding drones to their delivery team. That's thanks to a collaboration announced this week with Israeli startup Flytrex, a drone maker based in Tel Aviv.

Reykjavík is a unique testing ground for such a service because it's full of ocean bays with difficult and meandering traffic routes. That means that even going a relatively short geographic distance can often take a long time. (And, like we said earlier, nobody's interested in a procrastinating pizza party.) That's where the drone comes in handy. A Flytrex drone can deliver a package across the bay in just 4 minutes, as opposed to the usual half hour it might take by car.

Flytrex Sky DroneA Flytrex drone delivering a Coke and a smile. (Photo: Flytrex)

It's being dubbed the first-ever drone delivery system deployed in an urban environment. Meanwhile, Amazon has spent the past few years testing such a device in vast open farmlands in the United Kingdom. In other areas around the world, drones are helping assesses natural disasters, deliver medical supplies to remote areas and protecting forestland.

"We feel that the cooperation with FlyTrex is going to put us at the forefront of the competition in terms of what we can offer to both our retailers and to our customers," said Maron Kristófersson, the CEO of AHA. Assuming the trial goes well, Kristófersson said he hopes to expand the service into other countries.

This is not the first international collaboration for the Israel-based Flytrex. They've already been working on a project with a company known for making deliveries in the rain, sleet or snow – the Ukrainian Post Office. "It was only a matter of time before drone delivery became a reality," said Ihor Tkachuk, the acting director general of UkrPoshta, the country's postal service.

The public's appetite for such a device was sparked back in 2015. That was when Flytrex created a drone called the "Sky," which people could use to send items to one another.

With all of these projects, the idea is to offer better services at a lower cost. "A drone costs a lot less than a delivery truck and operates with batteries instead of costly fuel," said Flytrex CEO Yariv Bash, an alumnus of Tel Aviv University and an aeronautic engineer by trade.

He added: “A hundred years ago we didn’t have cars or scooters, but once you've learned that driving a Model T [Ford] is better than horseback riding, you realize the benefits,” he explained. “Once you realize that you can receive orders in 15 minutes instead of waiting for next-day delivery and it’s going to cost you the same price, you won’t look back.”

Bash was inspired to create the device after he co-founded SpaceIL, an Israeli team participating in Google’s Lunar XPRIZE space competition to send the first privately funded ship to the moon.

"We wanted to produce something different," Bash said of the drone. "We didn't want to produce another wireless selfie stick."


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