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Van-drone trial in Zurich ends


Van-drone trial in Zurich ends

Ian Kerr

The van-drone delivery trial by Mercedes-Benz, Matternet, and online retailer siroop has finished, and they're saying it was a success. But how much of a success?

Mercedes-Benz ran a three-week pilot project in partnership with US drone company Matternet and Swiss online marketplace siroop.

Customers were able to order selected products (weighing up to 2kg and suitable for transport by drone) from siroop, for same-day delivery by drone. The drones then flew to meet one of two Mercedes-Benz Vito vans equipped with precision landing technology.

Under the trial, the vans would stop at one of four pre-defined “rendezvous points” around Zurich, where the van driver took possession of the package and delivered it to the customer, while the drone returned to the retailer.

There were ... um ... how many deliveries?

Over ten days, there were 50 deliveries, with 100 drone flights.

According to Mercedes-Benz, the main objective for the project team was to test the processes and procedures required to operate a delivery system of this kind and to learn from practical experience.

"We are extremely satisfied with the results of the pilot project in Switzerland," said Stefan Maurer, Head of Future Transportation at Mercedes-Benz Vans. That sounds like a response to one of those surveys, where the options are dissatisfied, satisfied, and extremely satisfied. The next survey question would probably be: Would you recommend drone delivery to a friend? Anyway...

"The aim was to test the technology and the concept in real-world conditions and find out where optimisation was required. We also wanted to know how people would react to this new form of transportation."

The results of the trials are currently being analysed in depth. "We are convinced that the project will evolve rapidly. We see great potential for our solution and intend to expand it to include further areas of application," Maurer added.

Read my take on drone/van delivery here.

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