New Zealand’s first commercial drone takes flight

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, wait, it’s a drone! The future of delivery is here, as a parcel delivering drone successfully completed a flight in Auckland. Commercial aerial delivery service Flirtey completed its first parcel flight from Penrose to Mount Wellington in less than five minutes.

Flirtey has partnered with Fastway Couriers to trial the “airmail” technology in New Zealand.

The video below compares the delivery van journey to the drone delivery.

The drone flight took under five minutes to travel the usual 20-minute 1.9km journey by road.

The strength of drone delivery lies in its speed and convenience, but Fastway Couriers CEO Scott Jeyns says the drone technology is not intended to replace couriers.

Instead, it can work alongside couriers and increase delivery speed, particularly in traffic-congested areas.

“This opens up a range of possibilities for courier companies, small businesses and online retailers,” Jeyns says.

Flirtey CEO Matthew Sweeny says the partnership with Fastway is a step forward, as a large number of Fastway’s deliveries are online retail orders.

He says 83 percent of Fastway’s parcels are under 2.5kg, which is well suited to current drone delivery.

“Drone delivery will revolutionise online retail by enabling instant gratification,” Sweeny says.

“Flirtey is building a future where your retail purchases can be delivered to you by drone within minutes of placing an order online.”

The company wants to expand from Fastway’s depot in Penrose, Auckland to across all of New Zealand.

Currently, its drone model is has a 15km return range and can deliver packages under 2.5 kg.

Flirtey is an Australian start-up created out of Sweeny’s desire to revolutionise the courier delivery, fast food and online retail industries.

Out of 85 countries, Flirtey chose to trial its drones in New Zealand.

Callaghan Innovation aviation manager Chris Thomson said earlier this year that Flirtey choosing to trial its drones here allows Kiwi businesses to be at the forefront of drone technology.

This will give them an advantage over their competitors, he said.

“They can prove the technology and capability, and build a brand and market reputation before anyone else does,” Thomson told Businessdesk.

Overseas, drone delivery is imminent.

Ecommerce giant Amazon says it will be ready to launch its 30-minute drone delivery service when the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finalises its regulations.

This is expected to take one year.

In fast food space, DoDo Pizza in Russia has been delivering pizzas by drone since last year.

Flirtey completed a commercial trial of its drones with Trade Me and New Zealand Land Search and Rescue (LandSAR) in March.

Under the trial, the LandSAR team was given Flirtey delivery drones to help them search for a missing person in the South Island and delivery emergency medical supplies.

Trade Me funded the costs.

The drone was found to have the potential to find people quickly.

Sweeny says this established a safe track record and was an important step forward to bring commercial drone delivery closer to fruition. 

The company is now interested in partnering with businesses operating in the online retail, fast food, letters and parcels and urgent medical delivery space to conduct delivery by Flirtey trials.

You can find out more at the Flirtey website.