Zipline scores another delivery partner

… as the orders keep coming for Elroy Air

American drone logistics company Zipline has announced that it has scored another partner for fast food delivery.

It was at the UP.Summit – an exclusive, invitation-only gathering of technology stakeholders in the transport and mobility industry – that Zipline announced that it had reached an agreement with California-based fast food restaurant Mendocino Farms to launch deliveries in the areas that the chain serves.

It does look like there are still i’s to dot and t’s to cross because the pilot proper will be commencing in 2025, with the Zipline’s new P2 Zips set to deliver items that include sandwiches, salads and more from Mendocino Farms in select locations.

“With Zipline drone delivery, fans of Mendocino Farms will soon “Eat Happy” from home with fast, convenient delivery that keeps take-out just as tasty as dine-in,” Zipline said.

“As restaurant owners know, it’s far too common today for someone to order a favourite meal, only for it to arrive cold and late, despite having a premium delivery cost. No matter how carefully chefs craft a dish, a few wrong turns or a bad traffic jam can jeopardize the quality and customer experience.

“Zipline designed its P2 system to solve this problem for partners like Mendocino Farms. With Zipline, guests will place their favourite order and track its progress in real-time on their phone. Once the kitchen loads the order, the P2 Zip will take off and fly to their home hassle-free, with no traffic or disruptions.

“Just a few minutes later (under 10 minutes for deliveries 10 miles away), the Zip will arrive at its destination and hover safely and quietly high up in the sky, while its fully autonomous droid descends on a tether, steers to the correct location, and gently drops off its package to an area as small as a patio table or the front steps of a home. Moments later the Zip is gone, and it’s time to eat.”

The announcement comes at a time when the going looks really good at Zipline right now; just recent, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that it was authorising Zipline to deliver commercial packages around Salt Lake City using drones that fly beyond the operator’s visual line of sight without visual observers.

“There’s a lot of work that happens between when a guest orders their food and when they take that first delicious bite,” said Kevin Miles, CEO of Mendocino Farms.

“By working with Zipline, we’re making it faster and more convenient to Eat Happy wherever you are “Zipline delivery provides an exceptional, sustainable experience we’re thrilled to bring to our guests.”

To enable this service, select Mendocino Farms stores will add Zipline docks which allow team members to load orders without leaving their station. Zipline’s team has worked closely alongside the restaurants to learn and understand workflows and build an efficient system that works seamlessly in even the busiest kitchens. The system is more convenient for staff than a drive-thru window and requires less training.

In choosing to use Platform 2, Mendocino Farms joins other Zipline partners including sweetgreen, GNC, Cleveland Clinic, Michigan Medicine, OhioHealth, MultiCare Health Systems, Intermountain Health, Pagliacci Pizza and more.

Meanwhile at the same UP.Summit, Elroy Air, the company developing an end-to-end autonomous hybrid-electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) cargo system, also announced that its Chaparral aircraft was flying off the hangars, with current orders for the cargo machine exceeding 1,000 vehicles in 2023.

“Over the past several years, we’ve seen tremendous excitement build about the Chaparral system and its applications. To surpass 1,000 aircraft demand this year is an incredibly exciting milestone,” said co-founder and CEO Dave Merrill. “We are so grateful for our partners who have joined us at the forefront of an emerging chapter for logistics. We look forward to delivering these aircraft to points around the globe for a range of uses including express commercial shipping, humanitarian aid and resupply for the U.S. and allied forces.”

Described by Elroy Air’s co-founder Clint Cope as “a hybrid between a rough-and-ready helicopter and a battle-hardened bush plane,” the Chaparral is a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) craft that transitions between hovering using eight vertical fans and forward flight using four swivelling propellers.

A hybrid-electric powertrain gives it a range of up to 300 miles (482km) and a cargo capacity of 300 to 500lbs (136 to 226kg). Goods are loaded into an underslung pod that can autonomously be picked up and dropped off.

To complement the Chapparal’s capabilities, Elroy Air has introduced advanced modular cargo pods that can be pre-loaded by ground personnel and autonomously retrieved by the Chaparral aircraft before take-off.

Upon arrival at the delivery location, the aircraft autonomously lowers the pod to the ground.

The Chaparral aircraft then retrieves the next pod, creating a seamless bi-directional conveyor belt through the sky.

Elroy Air has previously secured commitments from partners in the commercial, defence and humanitarian markets including Mesa Airlines, Bristow and FedEx. In September, it announced a deposit-backed agreement with Bristow for five of Elroy Air Chaparral VTOL cargo drones, an expansion to Bristow’s letter of intent to pre-order 100 Chaparral systems in July 2022.


Leave a Comment


Welcome! Login in to your account

Remember me Lost your password?

Lost Password