While drone deliveries have been tested for medical supplies, e-commerce/package delivery, and even pizza right from the oven, there are other, seemingly endless possibilities for delivery by drone. Recently, Reliable Robotics Corp. (Reliable Robotics) and Giumarra Companies (Giumarra), a distributor of fresh produce in California, joined forces to launch an automated flight test program to help solve supply chain and delivery challenges within the industry. Their first successful flight was conducted in August, when a drone delivered peaches from a farm to a grocery store within 24 hours of harvest. This task is not yet available at scale for U.S. growers. The goal of this program is to reduce time and touch points between farms and consumers.

Tim Riley, President of Giumarra, said, “We believe autonomous aircraft will transform the future of the fresh-produce industry. This test proved the technology is viable and will evolve how we bring products to market by enabling us to deliver fresher, riper fruit anywhere in the country, including remote food deserts, at speeds never before seen.” Domestic air transport of produce has not been economical, but autonomous drone flights could make it possible and could provide more access to delivery sites, including small municipal airports in underserved areas.

This is yet another example of drones creating more efficiency, cost-reduction and, here, even greater access to healthy foods for those in areas in which they might not otherwise be able to obtain it.