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Tesco to trial Irish drones for deliveries


En route: Tesco will partner with Irish firm Manna Aero

En route: Tesco will partner with Irish firm Manna Aero

En route: Tesco will partner with Irish firm Manna Aero

Tesco will partner with Irish drone company Manna Aero to trial grocery home deliveries with drones.

Irish entrepreneur Bobby Healy's drone Manna Aero business has been trialling fast food deliveries using its flying drones. Tesco CEO Dave Lewis confirmed the grocery deliveries pilot would take place in Ireland.

"They (Manna) have already proven the capability, the question is how do we take that capability and apply it to Tesco. That's the detail that's being worked on now before we get to the trial," Mr Lewis said in a webcast Tesco hosted on "disruptive innovation".

Mr Healy also posted the news on social media.

Tesco group's innovation director Claire Lorains said the trial would focus on the delivery of just a few grocery items, such as forgotten recipe items, with deliveries made within 30 minutes to an hour of an order being made.

Further details about the new trial have yet to be clarified. Food retailers across the globe have rapidly expanded their pick-up and delivery services in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic and several are following US giant Amazon in trialling drones.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) could not be reached to comment on the trial. Ireland has strict rules on where drones can fly and the conditions under which they can be operated commercially.

Manna Aero holds a 'Specific Operating Permission' granted by the IAA to fly specific small unmanned aircraft in Ireland. Its flying activities are 'risk-­assessed' in accordance with Manna's operations manual.

The IAA has previously said that it would "not share confidential information about our regulated entities and their activities" in respect of Manna Aero other companies.

However, drones flying over communities have attracted an increasing number of complaints with fears over citizen privacy and safety. Despite this, there have been only a handful of prosecutions taken against drone operators. New EU rules overseeing drone regulation were deferred until the end of 2020 because of the Covid pandemic

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