Since the dawn of time, humankind has looked to the skies and sought to conquer them. For thousands of years we tried and failed until, at last, we could soar amongst the birds. We built biplanes that danced upon gusts of wind, strapped sails to our back and leapt off fog-drenched mountaintops, launched warplanes into the wild blue yonder to rain terror from above. The heavens were soon streaked with the vapor trails of jumbo jets; the oligarchy used its deep pockets for casual jaunts to the threshold of outer space. And then, with the skies at last firmly in our dominion, we once again turned our eyes upward and declared, “Know what would look great up there? Pizza.”
The technology to flood our skies with millions of pizza boxes does not exist just yet, but it’s taken a huge leap forward in Israel, where, The Wall Street Journal reports, Pizza Hut is launching the world’s first ever full-time drone delivery service. The pilot program is being heavily regulated by the government, and Pizza Hut’s human delivery drivers don’t need to worry about being replaced (yet), as the drones will not be making direct-to-customer drop-offs. Instead, the flying robots will bring multiple orders to designated landing zones outside of Pizza Hut’s normal delivery radius, where they’ll be picked up by a driver who will take the pizzas to their final destinations.
The drones’ home base will be a Pizza Hut located in Bnei Dror in Northern Israel, and will allow the restaurant to provide delivery service to an additional 7,000 households. The Ministry of Transportation has limited the drones’ flight area to about 50 square miles, and each drone’s limited battery life means there’s little chance of one going rogue.
The drones are a collaborative effort between Pizza Hut and three separate tech companies: CANDO is behind the drones, High Lander is managing the air traffic routing, Dragontail Systems is providing special AI technology that determines which vehicle takes what delivery to where and when, thus synchronizing the whole operation. The drone deployment team intends to run six test flights per day from now until the delivery program’s official launch in June, and hopes that once it proves its drones are safe and capable, the government will relax its apprehensive stance to large-scale drone delivery operations and loosen its existing restrictions. Currently, Pizza Hut’s drones will only be allowed to carry about 5.5 pounds of cargo, which is approximately the weight of two pizzas and a bottle of soda. Pizza Hut Israel Presiden Udi Shamai told the WSJ that he hopes that if the next four months of trial runs are successful the government will increase the weight allowance to 22 pounds, which will allow customers to go absolutely crazy with the toppings, and maybe grab a quiche or two to serve on the side.