Pizza on the fly: Pagliacci plans to offer drone delivery

Pagliacci Pizza is partnering with a drone company to deliver pizzas by drone in an effort to reduce the chain's carbon emissions.

Seattle's Pagliacci Pizza has taken to the skies.

The pizza chain announced on Wednesday that it has partnered with Zipline, a drone company, to offer drone deliveries in the future. Matt Galvin, Pagliacci's co-owner, said that the partnership will help the pizza chain to continue its sustainability initiatives. These already include composting food waste and purchasing electric delivery vehicles.

Galvin stated that the drone was another way to reduce our carbon emissions. It's a compelling business case. We have this multi-pronged approach to going to market.

He said that the partnership with Zipline, a San Francisco-based company, will allow customers to choose drone delivery for certain orders. The service will be available alongside other options, such as in-store pickup and car or bike delivery. Galvin said that Pagliacci orders are too big to fit within the drone's current size restrictions. Pagliacci could use drones to make more deliveries at peak times and offer smaller lunches.

Galvin stated that Pagliacci, Zipline and their team have 12 to 18 months before they can begin testing at one location. After this, the business will be able to roll out its drone service more widely. Galvin imagines that the drone service will be available in seven to nine stores within four years. Pagliacci is yet to choose the location for the pilot, but the decision will be based on permits and where customers can give feedback.

The location chosen will require a docking station for charging and loading the drones. Zipline must be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration. Last year, the FAA granted the company approval to operate in America. The company is currently operating in Arkansas Utah and North Carolina. Pagliacci also refines the packaging that it will use for the drones.

According to its LinkedIn profile, Zipline was established in 2014. The company has partnered with Walmart in Utah and Intermountain Healthcare. Zipline also plans to launch delivery services with health food retailer Sweetgreen. MultiCare Health System in Tacoma will begin using Zipline as a delivery service between its hospitals next year.

Zipline claims its drones are able to travel up to 70 mph, emit 97% less emissions than traditional deliveries and make little noise. The drones are able to fly up to 300 feet in the air and then lower the package down using a tether. The drones can cover a radius of 10 miles or travel up to 24 mile dock-to-dock. Zipline has the backing of Sequoia Capital and Andreessen-Horowitz.

Pagliacci, founded in 1979, was purchased by Galvin and his partners in 2000. Over 20 Pagliacci locations are located in the Seattle area. Galvin says that designing a pizza-box that fits in the drone is a key part of making drone deliveries successful. The boxes are only 8 inches wide, not 17 (which is a more common size). A final design that meets all requirements has yet to be developed.