Concept: American quick-service restaurant chain ‘El Pollo Loco’ commences a pilot project for a drone-to-backyard food delivery service dubbed AirLoco. The company aims to enhance the customer experience as it kicks off free delivery promotion for summer. The drones are supplied by an Israeli startup Flytrex.

Nature of Disruption: AirLoco comprises automated drones that cruise at 32 mph without traffic or other barriers and lower food orders using a wire release mechanism. They are equipped with a secured delivery box to keep orders intact. The company claims that customers will receive hot fire-grilled chicken and fresh LA Mex cuisine packaged in El Pollo Loco’s proprietary packaging in lesser time as compared to its traditional delivery. During the pilot, a limited group of El Pollo Loco’s ‘Loco Rewards’ members in southern California will be treated to one of the first fire-grilled flights. The meal will be placed onto the AirLoco drone after the order leaves the restaurant, and once it takes off, it will climb to around 200 feet and begin the trip to the destination. The tamper-proof sealed delivery bag will disconnect from the crane after the food is dropped from the 80-foot wire, allowing the client to receive their meal. The drone can carry up to 6.6 pounds of food.

Outlook: Drone delivery is believed to be a more sustainable and cost-effective means of food delivery. Moreover, discovering a faster way to deliver food is the need of the hour given traffic congestion continues to plague major cities in the US. Against the backdrop, El Pollo Loco anticipates a significant boost to its customer experience with the doorstep drone service that the brand wishes to soon roll out on a commercial basis. It announced to launch the trial program at 10 locations that will be chosen soon. The restaurant aims to extend the service to more than 480 of its eateries once the pilot is successful, based on demand and FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) regulatory permission.