Mercedes-Benz is taking the next step in an ambitious project to use drones for same-day delivery, with a three-week pilot in Zurich that will see mini copters shuttle bags of ground coffee to fixed points in the city.
As part of the trial, customers can place an order with Swiss online shopping platform Siroop on selected items from retailer Black & Blaze Coffee Roasting Co. The roaster packs the order on site, rather than delivering the goods to Siroop’s logistics center. Drones then fly to four fixed spots in inner-city Zurich about 6.2 miles, landing on the roofs of Mercedes-Benz Vito vans, which carry the parcel the last stretch, while the drones fly back to Black & Blaze.
– We have the incredible opportunity to do the most comprehensive test of drone technology in an urban environment to date – Stefan Maurer, who heads future transportation at the Mercedes-Benz Vans unit, said on Sept. 27.
– To validate our concept at this early stage with customers and project partners will help push forward the development of the technology.
The pilot program, which started On Sept. 24, is part of a 500-million-euro (US$589 million) effort that Mercedes announced last year to speed delivery times for online orders. The company, a unit of Daimler AG, is one of many businesses that are racing to develop drone-delivery services, even as rules limit where the craft can fly.