Manna partners with Tesco for Galway drone delivery pilot

10 Sep 2020

Image: © William/

Tesco is set to begin trials of drone delivery services in Oranmore next month, with the help of Bobby Healy’s Dublin drone start-up Manna.

On Wednesday (9 September), Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis announced that the supermarket giant is launching a drone delivery pilot in Galway, in partnership with Dublin start-up Manna.

During a webcast hosted by Tesco, focusing on disruptive innovation, Lewis said that the Dublin start-up has “already proven the capability” and that he is seeking ways to apply that capability to Tesco. According to Reuters, the Tesco chief executive said: “That’s the detail that’s been worked on now before we get to the trial.”

The news was also shared on social media by Manna’s founder and CEO, Bobby Healy.

Manna previously partnered with Just Eat to offer takeaway delivery services by drone at University College Dublin’s campus. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the launch was postponed due to the closure of colleges and schools around the country.

Tesco’s delivery plans

Tesco’s announcement during the webcast coincides with US retailer Walmart’s announcement that it is running a pilot project for drone deliveries of groceries and household goods, in partnership with drone business Flytrex. Walmart is the owner of UK supermarket chain Asda.

According to Reuters, Tesco’s innovation director Claire Lorains said that the trial will be geared towards customers ordering just a few grocery items, such as forgotten recipe items. The supermarket hopes that Manna’s drones will be able to deliver these items within an hour of orders being placed.

Lorains said: “We’re really interested to see how drones could be part of the solution to deliver to our customers on-demand small baskets. If our trial with Manna is successful, we believe there is an opportunity to reach many customers through our stores, extending via our drone service.”

According to The Irish Times, Manna’s trial is set to take place in Oranmore, with the pilot beginning in late October. The publication noted that the pilot scheme will need the backing of the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA).

The Irish Independent reached out to a spokesperson from the authority, but did not receive an immediate response.

At the beginning of the year, the Manna announced a partnership with Irish telecoms business, Cubic Telecom.

The collaboration between the two companies was aimed at launching a new high-speed food delivery service in the US and Europe. At the time, the companies said that the start-up’s drones, which are connected by Cubic Telecom, could autonomously deliver meals while flying at a height of up to 80 metres and at a speed of 80kph.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic