Amazon really started something with its talk of using drones for deliveries. It seems plenty of companies were already thinking about similar services, while others have been quick to start testing them out.
Perhaps it won’t be too long before Walmart announces a MartDrone prototype, or maybe Apple’s about to release a video showing an iMac being carried over the heads of Cupertino residents on its way to an address in Australia. Or something like that.
It’s not clear if these companies are serious about including quadcopters in their range of delivery options or are simply hoping to score a headline or two on news sites to save on marketing costs, but the idea of drone deliveries has certainly captured people’s imagination.
Germany-based Deutsche Post DHL is the latest company to claim it’s in the middle of testing unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to bring packages and parcels to customers.
Partnering with a pharmacy in Bonn for a week-long pilot project, Deutsche Post spokeswoman Dunja Kuhlmann told the Wall Street Journal its plans were in the early stages, although it had already thought up a rather nice name for its flying machine: the Paketkopter.
“There are a number of scenarios we’re evaluating, including delivering medicine that’s needed quickly, or to hard-to-reach places,” Kuhlmann said.
Various flying restrictions, however, mean the drug-carrying quadcopter can’t launch from, for example, residential areas. In one of its first test flights, the Paketkopter took off from an open space close to the pharmacy, before flying over the Rhine River and landing 0.6 miles (1 km) away on a lawn beside Deutsche Post’s head office.
The flight was manually controlled, as opposed to it being an automated mission using GPS coordinates. Further test flights have been conducted, with the company planning to evaluate the results to determine whether it can incorporate drones into its delivery service.
Amazon and others
Amazon hit the headlines last week when CEO Jeff Bezos revealed the company was working on delivering goods to customers using UAS. A few days later UPS piped up to say it too has been testing out such a system.
However, the pizza industry – specifically Domino’s Pizza – appears to be way ahead of the pack, perhaps not surprising considering speed is of the essence when you get a craving for the dough-and-cheese-based snack. The company earlier this year released footage of a flying margarita making its way to a hungry customer on board its DomiCopter, though it’s not yet known if Domino’s Pizza plans to make drone deliveries a permanent feature of its service.