Manna and Just Eat launch drone food delivery service at UCD

26 Feb 2020

From left: Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon and Manna CEO Bobby Healy. Image: Maxwell Photography

With the launch of Manna’s commercial pilot, UCD students will soon be able to order takeaways that will be delivered by drone within minutes.

Dublin-based drone business Manna has announced that it is set to launch a commercial pilot of its airborne logistics programme next month on the University College Dublin (UCD) campus.

The start-up, which announced in January that it would be partnering with Cubic Telecom to make drone food delivery services a reality, plans to offer customers on UCD’s Belfield campus a service that can deliver food orders from a restaurant or takeaway within three minutes.

Manna has launched the pilot with food delivery platform Just Eat, and has partnered with Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream and Camile Thai.

Easing student hangovers

Manna CEO and founder Bobby Healy said: “I am extremely proud of the team and what we have built. It is a pleasure to work with such high calibre partners on our project next month in Dublin – our commercial pilot in University College Dublin.

“It’s clear that drone delivery provides a faster, cleaner, safer, cheaper and higher quality alternative to road-based delivery. We are excited about how that will improve the world.”

It will be up to the students of UCD to decide whether drone delivery is indeed a better alternative to traditional methods, but the shorter delivery time may make student life a little bit easier.

Speaking to yesterday (25 February) at the Enterprise Ireland Start-up Showcase for 2020, Healy joked: “There will be no such thing as a hangover anymore.”

There was plenty of buzz about Healy’s start-up at the Enterprise Ireland event, and Healy discussed how excited he was to launch the service to the population of 30,000 present in UCD from September to May each year.

He added that he was happy to work with Cubic Telecom on the project, not only because it’s an Irish company, “but because they are a world leader in this space”.

Healy said that Cubic Telecom’s technology is an important factor in successfully running a drone company, and that outsourcing that side of the business to Cubic Telecom has helped Manna focus on getting the project off the ground and showing the world what drone delivery will look like.

He claimed that we can expect to see a wider roll-out of the technology in 2021.

‘Two complementary services’

Commenting on the partnership, Just Eat Ireland managing director Amanda Roche-Kelly said: “Technology is at the core of everything we do at Just Eat, so we’re delighted to be involved in these pioneering trials with Manna, who have clearly built a groundbreaking drone delivery system.

“Transforming the business of food delivery as we know it, this coming together of two complementary services will greatly improve the delivery experience for our customers and further adds to the countless ways we connect people with food everywhere.

“We are just so proud to be Ireland’s first online food ordering and delivery platform to provide a commercial drone delivery offering to our customers.”

Healy added: “This technology will transform online food marketplaces, restaurants, dark kitchens and communities globally. The Irish Aviation Authority have been a tremendous help and guide over the past three years, working together we have ensured that our drones are extremely safe in all operating conditions.

“We look forward to working with regulators around the world as we bring this innovative technology to customers across the globe.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic