Val Vista Lakes, a neighborhood at the edge of Gilbert and Mesa, is set to experience a cutting-edge food delivery method, as Los Angeles-based Flyby Robotics has announced the launch of a drone food delivery pilot program in the area.
During the trial period, residents living within a one-mile radius of Nekter Juice Bar, MAD Greens, and Tokyo Joe’s can enjoy drone-delivered smoothies, salads, sushi, and more, for a nominal $3 fee. The company aims to keep average delivery times under four minutes. Depending on the program’s success, a permanent rollout may follow.
Jason Lu, Flyby’s co-founder and CEO, revealed that the pilot program would last for several weeks. Flyby’s software integrates with participating merchants’ order management systems to ensure the accurate delivery of orders to customers. FAA-certified commercial pilots will be monitoring the drone flights, which are equipped with parachutes for safety.
To use the service, customers must download the Flyby app, provide visual markers, and stay in communication with drone pilots until their orders are delivered. Flyby Robotics’ unique delivery system involves a gentle winching mechanism that lowers the products from the drones to customers’ doorsteps. This approach allows the company to deliver fragile items, such as smoothies, without spillage.
Flyby Robotics was founded in 2020 by Jason Lu and Cat Orman, both Yale University graduates. The company’s goal is to offer affordable, fast delivery options for businesses at a reduced cost. Flyby recently raised $4 million in pre-seed funding, with plans to develop autonomous drone operation technology. Human intervention will be limited to a remote pilot who can manually override the operation in rare cases.
Diana Bowman, co-director of the Center for Smart Cities & Regions at Arizona State University, sees the launch of Flyby Robotics in Mesa as a significant shift in food delivery services. This innovative approach enables customers to more easily connect with local restaurants and receive their fresh food faster. The Center for Smart Cities and Regions at ASU is eager to collaborate with pioneering companies like Flyby to advance the smart region vision in Arizona.