Wendy’s Hamburgers Could Soon Be Arriving at Your Doorstep — Via Drone

Wendy’s has always prided itself on providing more to its customers – more beef in its hamburgers, especially – than other fast-food chains.  Now the multi-billion dollar company is promising to get that beef to you faster than the competition.  How?  By delivering your outsized burger – plus fries and a soda – with a drone.

After a year-long pilot in Australia, Wendy’s and DoorDash are turning to one of the world’s leading UAV delivery services – Alphabet’s Wing – to begin a full-scale rollout of the new operation at a single Wendy’s franchise in the United States – located in Christiansburg, a small Virginia suburb.

Christiansburg, a sleepy town of just 21,000 residents, is an ideal venue for the new operation.  First, Wing first got its start here in 2019, so it already knows the lay of the land.  The company has been delivering grocery store items to elderly residents in Christiansburg for several years and has ironed out all of the early kinks in its drone delivery operation.

The physical lay-out of the town is also highly favorable.  Zipline makes its aerial deliveries with a quadcopter that lowers food items encased in a droid – a plastic container – to the ground using a tether cable.  Chrsitansburg has lots of widely spaced residential homes with front and back yards that make for natural drop zones for drone packages.

Another plus of the area:  there are no tall buildings, electric towers or airports that might pose an obstacle to drone flights, or require round-about routes.  Package deliveries can be made point-to-point, as the crow flies, guaranteeing the customer a swift receipt.

Wendy’s has partnered with DoorDash for several years and customers that prefer road or bicycle delivery of their food items will continue to enjoy it.  But with Wing onboard, DoorDash’s app now includes a drone delivery option – for no additional charge.  And for large orders exceeding the payload capacity of a single drone, Wing says it’s prepared to send several aircraft as needed to the same address – again, at no extra charge.

There’s one important caveat:  Customers must live within a 2.5 mile radius of the Wendy’s franchise at 2355 Franklin Street to qualify for drone service.  That’s largely due to the limited range of Wing drones based on a single battery power charge.  As a result, not all residents of Christiansburg – Virginia’s fourth largest town covering almost 15 square miles – will be able to take advantage of the new service.

With drone retail deliveries expanding rapidly nationwide – and companies like Wing serving multiple retailers in the same locale – this latest pilot is probably just the beginning.  Before long, other stores in Christiansburg that rely on DoorDash will likely get curious about adding a Wing drone option.  And at some point Wendy may add Wing’s service to its other nearby outlets, company officials say.

For now, the three companies have decided to take things slow – just one town and one store outlet at a time.

But it’s a great start.

Wing officials have hailed the new partnership as the beginning of Wing’s expanding US operations which also include drone hubs in North Texas and partnerships with major US retailers like Walmart.  With its newly developed scalable delivery model, plus BVLOS authority from the FAA, Wing’s in a strong position to emerge as a major force in drone delivery operations nationwide.

But Wing also has a stake in keeping its Christiansburg operations small and “homey.”  It has a sterling performance and safety track record here, and thousands of satisfied customers who regularly take to social media to praise the company’s service.  Not every drone firm can boast such fandom – and it’s a prized asset that Wing would like to preserve as the company continues to move forward.

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