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05/27/2022

Unilever offers drone delivery for direct-to-consumer ice cream orders

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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ice cream drone
Unilever is delivering ice cream to consumers via drone.

A CPG giant is taking to the skies with its next-generation version of an ice cream truck.

Unilever, which is deploying a fleet of Robomart on-demand mobile mini-marts to take its virtual direct-to-consumer (DTC) ice cream storefront, The Ice Cream Shop, on the road (see details below), is also now offering ice cream delivery via drone. The company is partnering with end-to-end drone delivery company Flytrex to make Ice Cream Shop drone deliveries across all of Flytrex’s U.S. locations, including Holly Springs, Fayetteville and Raeford, N.C.; and Granbury, Texas.

According to Unilever, drone orders from The Ice Cream Shop will be delivered to front and back yards of local residents with a promised flight time of less than three minutes. Customers can place orders for drone deliveries of ice cream using the Flytrex app. The app will provide customers with real-time updates along the delivery route until the package is lowered safely by wire into their yard.

The new service is operating in cooperation with Flytrex partner Causey Aviation Unmanned, under a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) waiver allowing a delivery radius of one nautical mile. Unilever says this radius will enable the delivery service to reach thousands of potential homes.

The Flytrex app will also offer exclusive bundles from The Ice Cream Shop, including packages with themes of chocolate, cookie ice cream, berry/fruit ice cream, barbecue, and Ben & Jerry’s.

Unilever deploys robotic ice cream trucks
Starting in summer 2022, Unilever will deploy its fleet of Robomart on-demand mobile mini-marts. Known as “The Ice Cream Shop Robomarts,” the robotic stores will offer products from Unilever ice cream brands including Ben & Jerry’s, Breyers, Good Humor, Magnum ice cream, and Talenti to consumers in the Los Angeles area.

Leveraging Robomart’s one-tap grocery ordering technology, consumers will be able to hail The Ice Cream Shop Robomarts to their location using Robomart’s proprietary mobile app. When it arrives, the user will swipe across the app to open the vehicle’s door. 

Robomart’s proprietary, RFID-based checkout-free system allows consumers to retrieve their selected products and walk away, without having to physically check out or swipe their credit card.

“We’re excited to team up with Flytrex as our first-ever drone delivery partner to bring The Ice Cream Shop to new heights,” said Russel Lilly, GM, Unilever North American Ice Cream. “Not only are we providing an exciting, innovative and ultra-fast way for ice cream fans to enjoy their favorite Unilever ice cream brands, but The Ice Cream Shop and Flytrex have exclusive ice cream bundles available for purchase. Whether you need some treats to sweeten up your backyard barbecue or are craving a cookie crunch - we’re ready to fly straight to your doorstep.”

According to Unilever, it is the world’s largest manufacturer of ice cream.Flytrex’s delivery service is now available to 10,000 homes across North Carolina and Texas. The company has completed thousands of drone deliveries.