It’s no joke: what started as a quick and easy way for folks in Hoke County to get their Walmart order has expanded to include food deliveries by flying drone.
Last year the company Flytrex chose the Walmart in Hoke County as one of its program test sites, to see how customers would like getting their small household items dropped off at their door by a flying, unmanned drone.
The response has been good, and the company has expanded its partnership to include local restaurants. Now when people are out and about in Hoke County, they might spot the whirring drones lifting off with packages in tow.
“We’re just expanding the amount of restaurants and eateries we support and increasing the houses we can reach. Today in Raeford we’ve got six restaurants and the Walmart supercenter,” Flytrex Chief Operating Officer Yariv Bash said.
Subway, Sakura Jr., Beans Gone Wild, Mi Casita and Papa John’s are among the restaurants in the county working with Flytrex to offer drone delivery.
People interested in trying out the drone delivery service should install the Flytrex app on their phone. It functions like any other on-demand delivery app, Bash said.
There is a limit to the service delivery area, and the app can show if a household is inside the delivery area.
“All a customer has to do is install the Flytrex app and we immediately know if we can support the request or not,” Bash said.
After putting in an order – “After 15, 20 minutes you see a drone approaching,” he said.
Drone delivery has the benefit of being fast, getting a food order to a customer while it’s still fresh. It’s also more affordable than human delivery drivers using cars, Bash said.
Right now the drones deliver within a radius of about one nautical mile, but they have a potential range of about three miles. The company is looking at expanding how far out they can offer the deliveries to be able to service more homes in Hoke, the COO said. The drones can carry up to 6.6 pounds at a time.
Flytrex’s drones are specially made just for the company.
“We design and produce our own drones. They look like something you can buy online, but these are actually certified by he FAA as commercial airplanes,” Bash said.
Since privacy is a concern, the Flytrex delivery drones don’t have cameras on them, he explained. They are also designed to be quiet so as not to disturb residential neighborhoods. They’re meant to be “the most private solution you can have for delivery,” the COO said.
After the interview, Flytrex let a News-Journal reporter know the company would offer a special coupon code for News-Journal readers. When using the Flytrex app, use the code THENEWS at checkout for 30 percent off the restaurants in Raeford, valid until the end of the month.
For more information, visit https://www.flytrex.com.