About half of Iceland’s capital can now receive orders of various fast foods from the air using drones dispatched by one of the country’s biggest e-commerce businesses, Aha.
And within five years, the company hopes that they will have enough drones to serve the rest of Reykjavik.
“We're always waiting for the flying car, but the drone deliveries with food and other products will take cars off the street,” says Aha operations director, Kristofer Mar Maronsson.
The machines operate from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. along 13 designated flight paths, from which they can deviate by up to 700 metres.
They are used to transport bagged food orders to customers, which Aha collects from a retail point. The flying process is largely automated, but the drone can still be controlled by an operator if needed.
When the aircraft reaches the customer’s destination, the customer receives a text message alert on their phone.
"When he presses 'accept,' the drone will deliver the goods via wire. So, the wire just goes down and the customer takes the product or food,” says Maronsson.
Businesses looking to adopt the service have reached out to Aha from across Scandinavia, including municipality chiefs and shopping mall operators. But overall, take-up has been slow.
Despite being the cheaper option, Aha conducts just two to three drone deliveries per day compared to hundreds being completed by car.
“Public perception is a huge thing when it comes to this,” says Aha CEO Maron Kristofersson. “We have customers that are worried about ordering a delivery to their backyard because they're worried about the perception of the neighbour.”
Current rules governing such deliveries are strict. In order for customers to receive goods at their home by drone, they need written permission from their neighbours.
What do the customers think? Magnus Jonnson is over the moon with his flying fish as he watches his sushi order land.
"Sometimes I am at the office, sometimes I'm out on the field, and it's an absolutely delightful thing to get just; 'Oh, I'm hungry now,' and get to order your food just to where I am at that point,” says Jonnson. “So, it's definitely a good thing."