Tesco is to trial home deliveries by drone in a move that could allow small items to be despatched to customers within 30 minutes to an hour of ordering.

Britain’s biggest retailer has teamed up with the drone delivery company Manna and will conduct the six-month trial next month delivering essentials from its Oranmore store in Co Galway, Ireland, where Manna has a licence to operate.

The trial is aimed at “small baskets” – a market Tesco estimates will be worth £10 BN in the UK in the coming years.

Dave Lewis, the chief executive of Tesco, said:

“They [Manna] have already proven the capability, the question is how do we take that capability and apply it to Tesco and that’s the detail that’s been worked on now before we get to the trial.”

Lewis said Tesco had four innovation priority areas: food & drink products and technology; data; robotics and automation; and packaging.

Claire Lorains, group innovation director at Tesco, said:

“We are interested to see how drones could be part of the solution to deliver to our customers on-demand small baskets. If our trial with Manna is successful, we believe there is an opportunity to reach many customers through our stores, extending via our drone service.”

Any expansion of Manna’s drone delivery services will require approval from the Irish Aviation Authority. Manna said that its drones fly at an altitude of 80 metres and a speed of over 50mph – delivering within a 1.2-mile (2km) radius in less than 3 minutes.​

The announcement was made as part of Tesco’s “Red Door” initiative, which invites innovators with new products, ideas or emerging technologies to work with its innovation team.

Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters

Source: Reuters

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