UK Supermarket Chain Tesco To Test Drone Delivery

Manna Aero delivery drone.
Credit: Manna Aero

UK supermarket chain Tesco said it will test grocery deliveries by drone in Ireland starting in October.

Tesco executives revealed the trial program during a webcast on technology innovation that the retailer held Sept. 9, Reuters and other media reported. It will conduct the trial with drone delivery service developer Manna Aero in Oranmore, Ireland, where it has a superstore.

“We’re really interested to see how drones could be part of the solution to deliver to our customers on-demand small baskets,” said Tesco Group Innovation Director Claire Lorains, quoted by Reuters. “If our trial with Manna is successful, we really think there is an opportunity to reach many customers [by] extending with a drone service.”

Tesco and Dublin-based Manna Aero did not immediately respond to inquiries.

Manna Aero has developed a multicopter that delivers food directly from restaurants and centralized kitchens within a 2 km (1.2 mi.) radius “in less than three minutes.” The craft flies at an altitude of 80 m (262 ft.) and lowers packages from a bomb bay door to the ground by tether.

The start-up company has also collaborated with Ireland’s Health Service Executive to deliver food and pharmacy products in the village of Moneygall in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bill Carey

Based in Washington, D.C., Bill covers business aviation and advanced air mobility for Aviation Week Network. A former newspaper reporter, he has also covered the airline industry, military aviation, commercial space and unmanned aircraft systems. He is the author of 'Enter The Drones, The FAA and UAVs in America,' published in 2016.