Daimler AG DDAIY 1.14 % said on Wednesday it would join with U.S. startup Matternet to develop drones for its delivery vans and invest 500 million ( 562.7 million) over the next five years in designing electric, networked vans. Daimler, the maker of Mercedes-Benz cars and trucks, acquired a minority stake in Menlo Park, Calif.-based Matternet as part of the partnership, a spokeswoman said. Daimler's overall investment in the initiative, called adVANce, will go to vehicle digitization, automation, robotics and mobility solutions technologies. "We are looking beyond the vehicle to the whole value chain and the entire environment of our clients," said van division chief Volker Mornhinweg. The goal is to turn vans into "intelligent, interconnected data centers," he said.
Coffee has been delivered by drone for the first time ever in a densely populated area. The test was part of a project in Zurich to deliver household items such as toothbrushes, deodorant and smartphones to Swiss homes by unmanned aerial devices this autumn. Big firms such as Amazon and Google have spent several years investing in drone delivery research, seeing it as the future of goods distribution. The test was part of a project in Zurich to deliver household items such as toothbrushes, deodorant and smartphones to Swiss homes by unmanned aerial devices this autumn. The experiment come as big firms such as Amazon and Google have spent several years investing in drone delivery research.
The automaker has invested in drone logistics developer Matternet, and the two have worked together on a Vision Van concept (above) that would make delivery drones more practical. The electric vehicle amounts to a last-mile launching pad: drones can grab packages from its "fully automated" cargo space and fly a relatively short distance to complete deliveries that would be impractical (or just slow) for a human courier. And when it would connect everyone from the distribution center to recipients, it would manage deliveries that aren't usually feasible today -- same-day delivery at a specific time, for instance, rather than making a best effort. You're probably not going to see this van roving around your neighborhood any time soon. Mercedes hasn't said anything about translating it to a production vehicle, which isn't surprising when delivery drone regulation is still nebulous at best.
UPS is teaming up with autonomous delivery drone startup Matternet to experiment with using drones to deliver medical supplies, the companies announced on Tuesday. Starting today, the supplies will be delivered via Matternet's M2 quadcopters to WakeMed hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina. The drone delivery program will be overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration and the North Carolina Department of Transportation. It will be small at first: Matternet's drones can only carry payloads of up to five pounds over distances of up to 12.5 miles. Here's how the companies describe the delivery program: Throughout the WakeMed program, a medical professional will load a secure drone container with a medical sample or specimen – such as a blood sample – at one of WakeMed's nearby facilities.
Tech visionaries may tantalize us with visions of instant gratification via drone delivery, but Silicon Valley has yet to deliver on such promises. Meanwhile, halfway around the globe in an African country barely the size of Maryland, drone deliveries have already taken flight--with more serious cargo than burritos. Jeremy Hsu is a science and tech journalist based in New York. Sign up to get Backchannel's weekly newsletter. In October 2016, Rwandan crowds cheered the launch and landing of delivery drones developed and operated by Zipline, a San Francisco-based startup.