You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Online shoppers need drones: Domino's boss

AAP logoAAP 22/12/2016 Petrina Berry

Domino's Pizza boss Don Meij says an impending surge in online shopping means Australia soon won't have enough delivery drivers to keep up with demand and drones - just like the ones his own company is trialling - are the inevitable answer.

Mr Meij, who runs one of the country's busiest and most tech-savvy delivery services, says the need for drone deliveries will only increase when online retail giant Amazon arrives in Australia next year.

Amazon is widely expected to launch its general merchandise and fresh food e-commerce business, starting with Melbourne, in September next year.

Mr Meij says Amazon's arrival will drive even greater uptake of online shopping in Australia, fuelling the need for autonomous drone deliveries - a service being trialled by big players such as Amazon, Google and Australia Post as well as Domino's.

"(Amazon) will be very good for Australia," Mr Meij told AAP.

"It will lift the profile of online shopping: more and more consumers will want to buy online and have it delivered to their home or office.

"It would absolutely drive demand for drones. There won't be enough humans to deliver items that people want to buy on the net."

Mr Meij said Domino's could face a shortage of delivery drivers within two years in Australia and New Zealand as more customers order via mobile app or website.

That change is part of the motivation for the company's trial of deliveries in New Zealand with drone maker Flirtey.

The service uses autonomous drones loaded with destination coordinates - as opposed to remote-controlled units - to fly pizzas from store to customer.

When it reaches the destination, the pizza box is lowered by cable while hovering 30 metres above ground - in line with Australian regulations that prohibit drones from coming within 30 metres of a person.

The drone is monitored remotely by a person and Domino's plans to eventually have one person overseeing a small number of drones.

The trial is ongoing and Mr Meij said he hopes to have a number of Domino's NZ stores making daily drone deliveries by the end of 2017.

He said safety, privacy and job loss fears around the commercialisation of drones were unwarranted.

"The safest place on the planet is between 150 feet and 400 feet above the ground - above 400 feet you've got helicopters and planes and on the ground you have all sorts of obstacles: people, cars and dogs," he said.

"We are not proposing to have drones near an airport or high rises."

Mr Meij also said cameras fitted to drones act like security cameras in stores and would not invade people's privacy.

"The content would only be looked at if there were any safety concerns and it's all coded and secure, like any data collected," he said.

"And if these drones ever fail they have parachutes onboard so they float to the ground."

He said drones would move jobs upstream, creating a need for people to build, repair, monitor and manage drones.

Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) spokesman Peter Gibson said drones were some time away from being able to safely deliver parcels in bustling cities.

"No one has a drone today that is reliable enough and clever enough, to fly autonomously from any shop, through city streets and to a home to drop a parcel off," he said.

"There's lot of technology challenges to be addressed but I'm not suggesting they won't be solved.

"There are plenty of companies doing trials and the regulations will have to keep up with the technology breakthroughs as they happen."

A Senate inquiry into remotely piloted aircraft systems is currently looking at retailers' use of drones and Domino's is among the organisations to have made a submission.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon