DoorDash Introduces Drone Delivery At Virginia Wendy's

DoorDash and Wing have just introduced a drone delivery pilot (is that a pun?). For now, the initial test run of the technology is limited to the Wendy's restaurant in Christiansburg, Virginia, located at 2355 N. Franklin Street, per an official press release. Local customers placing Wendy's DoorDash orders are presented with a "drone delivery" option on the mobile checkout page.

Delivery drone service Wing posted a YouTube video illustrating the process. The Wendy's order is prepared and packed into a DoorDash takeout box with a top handle. Then, the drone flies over the restaurants, the employee walks outside with the packaged order, the drone lets down a line with a hook at the end, the employee attaches the takeout box to the hook, and the drone flies away with the order. Once it reaches the destination (reportedly in 30 minutes or less), the takeout box gently descends to the ground, where the customer is ostensibly waiting to collect it. (The little autonomous Autobot is pretty adorable if you can momentarily put the "Metropolis" vibes aside.)

The program officially launched (another pun, sorry) on March 21. If successful, DoorDash and Wing have announced plans to expand to other U.S. markets by the end of the year. The technology could be a solid innovation for delivering small orders over short distances, making it a natural fit in the fast food sphere. (Larger quantity orders like Wendy's Biggie Bags or Taco Bell's Party Packs might complicate this a bit, but we digress.)

Flying into a market near you (soon?)

This new direction is all about speed and convenience, Harrison Shih, Senior Director of DoorDash Labs, explains in the press release. Shih also affirmed the company's commitment "to advancing last-mile logistics by building a multi-modal delivery platform that serves all sides of our marketplace." (Plus, automated workers don't ask for healthcare or livable wages!)

It's a new direction on the technological side of the equation too, as Wendy's is the first restaurant with which Wing has ever partnered. However, this isn't Wing's first time working with DoorDash. The duo teamed up back in 2022 in Australia, delivering takeout via drone with over 60 participating merchants and three locations in Queensland over a year. According to Cosimo Leipold, Head of Partnerships at Wing, via the press release, the drone service has "made over 350,000 deliveries across three countries," already proving successful in an overseas market.

Wendy's isn't the only fast food chain that has tested drone delivery, either. In November, a Chick-fil-A in Brandon, Florida found the technology so useful and effective that it shared aspirations to expand its delivery radius from 1.2 miles to 2 miles. Wendy's is also currently testing controversial new dynamic pricing and A.I. ordering systems at drive-thrus (which have proven successful in upselling customers).