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, DC, Bill covers avionics, air traffic management and aviation safety for Aviation Week. A former daily newspaper reporter, he has covered the commercial, business and military aviation segments as well as unmanned aircraft systems. Prior to joining Aviation Week in November 2017, he worked for Aviation International News and Avionics and Rotor & Wing magazines.