Tesco trials drone delivery service

2020-10-27

Tesco, Britain's biggest supermarket chain, has begun to trial using drones for grocery home deliveries.

The pilot project is taking place in Ireland, with shoppers in Oranmore, County Galway, being the first to use the service.

Tesco has partnered with drone delivery start-up Manna to conduct the trials, which will run for nearly six months. Manna already has a licence to operate in Ireland.

"We're really excited about this partnership and delighted that our store in Oranmore is involved in this trial," Catherine Swift, shop manager at Tesco Oranmore, told the .

"We're continually looking for new ways to serve our customers a little better and this trial is an opportunity to look at meeting demand for small basket shops and quick delivery. We're looking forward to seeing how our customers in the Oranmore area respond to the service."

is the biggest retailer in the UK and Ireland, and the move shows that the firm is ready to experiment with different ways to reach customers.

Manna currently operates in Ireland and Wales, using customised drones to deliver medicines and other items to its customers. Manna's aero drones can fly at 80kph speed to deliver up to 4kg of "small baskets," taking about three minutes to deliver to customers a mile away.

Tesco's Group Innovation team will lead the drone pilot project. Customers will be able to order about 700 products, through the FlipDish app. After receiving an order, an Oranmore shop employee will pack the item, and a Manna supervisor will manage the actual delivery.

Drone delivery will run six days a week (Tuesday to Sunday) from 9.30 am to 5 pm, and the customers will receive their purchases within 30 minutes to one hour of ordering.

The idea of delivering items in the UK through drones is not new. In 2016, from its fulfilment centre in Cambridge to a local customer, within 13 minutes of the order being placed.

Earlier this year, the government announced that it would allow use of larger unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver essential medical supplies from the mainland to the Isle of Wight.

Most recently, in September, Walmart said that it would run trials to deliver grocery and household items through drones, in partnership with end-to-end delivery firm Flytrex.