Mercedes-Benz Vans, Matternet and a startup online marketplace company called Siroop teamed up to publicly test their new drone delivery service in Zurich, Switzerland on September 28, 2017. An autonomous Matternet drone picked up coffee and flew the package to a Mercedes Benz Vito van. The delivery man took the packaged coffee and finished the delivery himself. This new Mercedes-Benz drone delivery program is being tested only in Zurich, and local residents can participate by placing orders through Siroop until October 13, 2017.
How Does it Work?
Customers must order select items up to 4.4 pounds. The seller will then pack the items in a Siroop box and place it on a drone landing mat. The box still has to physically be connected to the drone, but the drone will automatically take-off once it gets green lighted through an app. The drone will fly the package onto a custom landing area on top of the Mercedes-Benz van. The delivery man then takes the package and drives to the destination just like any mailman.
Mercedes-Benz Drone Delivery
This new program can cut the need for restocking delivery vans in a warehouse. The Mercedes-Benz Vito van can be docked in one of four rendezvous points to await incoming packages directly from merchants. Essentially, it makes the Mercedes-Benz van a mobile warehouse itself that delivers products straight to the customers. The Mercedes-Benz drone delivery program is the first of its kind, and it’s a milestone for autonomous aerial delivery systems in a major urban city.
With the three companies working together, same day deliveries just got faster, but the point of the pilot program is to see how efficient the concept drone delivery system is. Data gathered in the three-week testing period will be compared to traditional delivery services.
Besides eCommerce applications, Matternet drones can be used to deliver diagnostic samples and medical supplies to hospitals. Matternet has worked with Unicef in Africa, and their drones flew 6.2 miles to deliver HIV samples for diagnosis to hospitals.
Mercedes-Benz Vision Van
Mercedes-Benz showcased a similar concept drone delivery vehicle called the Vision Van back in CES 2017. The emission free, battery powered vehicle also had an integrated autonomous drone delivery system. Specially made compartments hold shoe box sized packages inside the van. A fully automated robot system would raise the packaged box through the roof of the van where the Matternet drone would pick it up.
The drone delivery program in Zurich is still far from what the concept Vision Van offers, but it is a glimpse of tomorrow’s drone delivering technology.