Foodpanda wants to use drones to pick up and send orders - but they won't be replacing delivery riders

PHOTO: Foodpanda

Getting stuff you ordered delivered straight to your doorstep via a drone is pretty much the future that many have envisioned, and to a certain extent, that future is now. For the past few years, Amazon has been teasing the launch of its Prime Air service, in which delivery drones send packages to customers in less than half an hour. 

Closer to home, food delivery platform Foodpanda wants to do the same, but one that sees drones complementing its fleet of riders, not replace them. 

And from the test run Foodpanda held in collaboration with ST Engineering yesterday (Aug 13), it would seem that getting food dispatched faster to hangry customers could be a reality soon enough.

An order consisting of five packets of ayam penyet was successfully delivered from Marina South Pier to an offshore vessel, with the massive drone managing to complete the 3km flight in under ten minutes. 

The PandaFly project was said to have kicked off in March this year when Foodpanda partnered with ST Engineering to adopt the latter’s DroNet unmanned aerial vehicle network solution. 

What this proves is that it is possible to send out food orders over longer distances while simultaneously cutting delivery times in half, Foodpanda says. A fresh packet of Changi Village nasi lemak could reach a customer across the island in Jurong within 15 minutes, the company estimated. 

This is what the company envisions: the delivery drones pick up and drop off orders at designated points located islandwide, and a delivery rider will then collect the order and make the last-mile delivery to the customers. 

Foodpanda Singapore's managing director Luc Andreani believes that the drones will be more than just a novelty aspect and will be able to keep costs low while also satisfying customers faster. 

The company didn’t outline an estimated date when they’ll start deploying drones en masse, but once they do, food delivery riders won’t have to consider using submarines to send orders to offshore islands.