If everything is bigger in Texas, then that applies to your meal and package delivery options. The Texas drone delivery is set to get bigger — and that’s all due to news announced today from drone delivery company Flytrex.
The company that is perhaps most famous for its drone delivery operations in Iceland is heading to the Lone Star State. Flytrex will partner with restaurant company Brinker International (which is the parent company of major chains including Chili’s Grill & Bar and Maggiano’s Little Italy) to deliver food in Granbury, Texas, which is a small town just outside of Dallas-Fort Worth. Flytrex will also partner with Causey Aviation Unmanned to execute the deliveries.
Eligible Granbury residents will be able to order food via the Flytrex app from participating restaurants, which will then send food via drones to their backyards.
While Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone flights are currently not legal for the general population of drone flights — making most drone deliveries difficult or impossible — this operation is made possible due to a newly-granted Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) waiver that allows the companies to operate over a delivery radius of one nautical mile. That enables Flytrex to reach thousands of potential homes.
Flytrex got its drone delivery start in Reykjavik, Iceland, though this is not its first launch in the United States. Flytrex has been operating for some time now in North Carolina, where it is acting as North Carolina Department of Transportation’s partner in the FAA’s BEYOND program. That program, which launched in November 2020, consists of eight separate groups of private companies, public entities and smaller governments to test various use cases. Since the beginning of the North Carolina project, Flytrex has expanded delivery service to 10,000 homes in cities across the state, starting with Fayetteville in September 2020 and later expanding to the town of Raeford. And in 2021, Flytrex added the Holly Springs Towne Center to its lineup, delivering food from It’s Just Wings to eligible homes.
Following Wing’s lead
The news of Flytrex’s Texas drone delivery venture comes about six months after drone delivery giant Wing (which is the sister company of Google) announced that it was bringing drone delivery to the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex and the neighboring town of Little Elm. With that announcement, Dallas became the first major metro in the U.S. and the largest overall metro area to be participating in drone deliveries.
For Wing’s Texas drone delivery tests, residents in certain areas of Frisco and Little Elm, Texas can order select Walgreens items. A Wing shipping container located at some Walgreens stores serve as the hangar for Wing’s delivery drones.
How Flytrex compares to other drone delivery companies
Because of its major status in North Carolina, Flytrex is a dominant force in the U.S. drone delivery space. Flytrex has already completed thousands of drone deliveries, which it says is more deliveries via drone than any other company in the U.S.
The other major competitor for U.S. drone deliveries is Wing. And while Wing can’t necessarily claim as many U.S. drone deliveries, it’s got hundreds of thousands of drone deliveries to its name overall. Prior to launching in Texas (and even still), the majority of Wing’s drone deliveries occur in Logan, Australia which is near Brisbane. Wing deliveries a range of items including groceries from Coles, which is one of Australia’s largest supermarket chains, as well as food from Vietnamese chain Roll’d, Friendly Grocer and Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Wing recently crossed the incredible 200,000 delivery milestone. That came just six months after it crossed the milestone of making 100,000 delivery drone flights. That averages out to about 555 drone deliveries made per day. And on one day, Wing even recorded more than 1,000 drone deliveries on a single day (that’s a delivery every 25 seconds).
The other big player in drone deliveries is Zipline, which primarily focuses on medical deliveries in developing countries. Zipline beat Wing to the 200,000 delivery milestone in November 2021.
Why Texas drone deliveries?
In general, Texas has proven friendly to new tech ventures. Frisco, Texas has welcomed the expansion of many major tech companies including Oracle and Redfin. With drones specifically, Texas has done more than just deliveries. Las year, telecommunications giant AT&T launched a 5G Innovation Studio in Plano to test 5G-centric applications like drones. Additionally, the first BVLOS drone flights of U.S. oil refineries began just last month in Tyler, Texas.
Texas is proving to be a promising state to test drone deliveries in, in large part due to the state’s suburban sprawl. Areas that are too rural make it complicated to test, as there just aren’t that many homes to work with. Plus, drones have to fly long distances, which isn’t necessarily efficient. Cities are complicated, as buildings and people present challenges. Suburbs may provide that sweet spot.
And with suburbs, there’s a need for drone delivery. Driving in your car to pick up food can be annoying. Restaurants are too far away to walk to, but you might still sit in traffic. A critical mass of people means goods still need to be delivered, whether it’s prescriptions for an older couple that can’t drive, or a family needing an emergency batch of diapers.
No matter the state, it seems as though people in general can’t get drone delivery fast enough. Nearly 9 in 10 people say they are eager for delivery drones to help run errands for them according to the results of a 2021 survey conducted by Virginia Tech researchers.