Purdue Athletics has collaborated with hospitality partner Levy, Levy’s DBK Studio, Chicago-based Valqari, and USOG (Unmanned Systems Operations Group) to pilot the first drone-delivered food and beverage service at a sports & entertainment venue.
Valqari and USOG have been working together on an autonomous point-to-point delivery system for the last three years. Designed for a fully automated process (loading, flight, and delivery) USOG’s end-to-end drone delivery system is fundamentally changing the food experience.
Test flights at a Boilermakers baseball home series transported orders from remote kitchens to landing area just outside Alexander Field.
“We are excited to work with Levy’s DBK Studio and USOG, alongside Purdue’s athletics department to bring their fans and staff an added level of service utilizing this state-of-the-art technology,” said Ryan Walsh, CEO of Valqari.
Valqari worked with its drone partner USOG, to create the fully autonomous drone delivery service, mapping out facilities, flight paths, menus, and pick-up with Levy’s on-site hospitality team. The service featured pre-set food & beverage combo meals, which were prepared and fulfilled at Folk Field – home of Purdue Women’s Soccer – and delivered to Alexander Field.
Drones equipped with delivery boxes transported orders to Alexander Field by navigating over soccer fields and the beautiful landscape of the Northwest Sports Complex, avoiding pedestrian zones and parking lots. Hospitality team members completed each order by retrieving food and beverage from the drone delivery box and placing it into a secure pick-up locker for guests to retrieve. The entire process provided a safe, fast, touchless, and convenient experience.
The pilot tested the user experience, food quality and delivery accuracy. Throughout the pilot, drones delivered orders of hot dogs, bottles of water, and chips to prepare and pressure-test the delivery experience for higher fan volume at future events.
“We always keep an eye toward innovation here at Purdue,” said Dr. Ken Halpin, Purdue deputy athletics director and chief operating officer. “This collaborative project between Levy, Valqari and our department brought an exciting new piece of event technology to Boilermaker baseball games this past weekend. We look forward to watching this area of sports and entertainment evolve and look forward to new developments in the future.”
“We get excited for pilots like this, not simply for the possibilities of an innovative technology like drones, but because we learn in the moment. The technology needs to create real value for our fans and better our operations, and we put in this important work testing and learning so that we can truly deliver at scale in the future,” said Andy Lansing, President and CEO of Levy. “Drone delivery has the potential to enhance the effectiveness of main kitchens across large campuses and remote venues, and expand the ways fans can access the food and beverage they enjoy most at an event. We look forward to building on the learnings from these milestone flights.”
The pilot will be evaluated throughout the summer to determine future opportunities to expand service at other athletic venues and events utilizing kitchen facilities across the campus.