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Mercedes-Benz in Pilot Project for e-Commerce Drone Delivery

October 7, 2017

Mercedes-Benz Vito Drone Delivery Base
Mercedes-Benz Vito Drone Delivery Base

Last month Mercedes-Benz teased the idea of drone deliveries on their Vision Van concept, but now this has become reality with the technology being piloted with a Vito van. The vans are supplied by Mercedes as part of a pilot project launched by Swiss online retailer Siroop, and the drones are supplied by Matternet, a US-based drone manufacturer.

Mercedes-Benz Vito Drone Delivery Base
Mercedes-Benz Vito Drone Delivery Base

The objective of this pilot program is to test on-demand delivery by drones and its acceptance by retailers and the general public. During the course of the three-week pilot project, customers will be able to order selected products from online marketplace Siroop that are suitable for transport by a Matternet drone, such as consumer electronics and small e-commerce items. The Matternet M2 drones used in the pilot can carry packages of up to two kilograms over distances of up to 20 kilometres.

Mercedes-Benz Vito Drone Delivery Base
Matternet M2 Drone Delivery Base

The drones are loaded directly at the merchant and fly to one of two Mercedes-Benz Vito vans equipped with a precision landing technology. The van stops at one of four pre-defined points, called “rendezvous points”, within the city of Zurich, where the van driver takes possession of the product and delivers it to the customer, while the drone returns to the retailer.

Mercedes-Benz Vito Drone Delivery Base
Matternet M2 delivery drone in flight

The entire logistics chain from order receipt to delivery to the customer will be timed and compared against conventional delivery methods to gain insights into the efficiency of the solution.

It is the first time that extensive beyond-line-of sight drone operations with the use of vans as landing platforms are taking place in a major urban area to test a fully-automated e-commerce drone network.

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