Yale students start drone delivery service on campus
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A group of students at Yale University has set up a drone delivery service on campus.
Kiki Air promises to deliver candy, snacks and other small items to students who place orders through an app.
The service is currently being tested using a small group of student customers before being launched campuswide.
Developers told the Yale Daily News that users order items from a menu on their phones and receive them at one of several drop locations around campus in a padded envelope attached to a drone.
Kiki Air’s founder, Yale senior Jason Lu, says his company grew from a class project and has won a $150,000 grant from Y Combinator, a California-based investor in startups.
“The convenience store business model hasn’t been updated in a hundred years,” Co-founder Cat Orman, a sophomore, told the student newspaper. “Delivery is expensive, inefficient and pays drivers terrible wages. We created Kiki Air because we want to bring that model into the future in the way that creates real jobs and reduces the carbon footprint.”
Customers are notified when a drone is nearing the prearranged drop zone to ensure they are in the area to pick up a package.
The newspaper reported that a Kiki Air drone fell last week onto a campus walkway, but nobody was injured. Orman described the incident as a “controlled landing” and said the company has increased training and changed drop locations after the incident.
A Yale spokesperson said that the university has agreed to a trial period for the company under strict guidelines. The trial is scheduled to end March 6 and the university will then determine if the program can continue.
Company officials say they hope eventually to expand the service to other campuses.