Matternet, a California-based developer of autonomous drone logistics systems, and Mercedes-Benz Vans recently flew into a key milestone for drone delivery, completing 100 deliveries for Swiss online retailer siroop between September and October.
The pilot project has taken off after the automotive giant struck a deal last year with Matternet to infuse a “multimillion dollar investment” in the drone company. The integrated system used two drones and two Mercedes-Benz Vito vans with landing platforms, providing siroop with on-demand delivery of online orders across Munich for a 10-day trial period.
“We are extremely satisfied with the results of the pilot project in Switzerland,” Stefan Maurer, Head of Future Transportation at Mercedes-Benz, said.
“The aim was to test the technology and the concept in real-world conditions and find out where optimization was required.”
The project deploys Matternet’s 2nd generation drone, the Matternet M2. When the project launched last year, the partnership listed four goals and it looks like the recent delivery project will bootstrap them in the coming days:
- Reduced overall delivery cycle and cost compared to existing courier service operations. Packages are delivered faster, irrespective of traffic in urban areas.
- Integration of drone systems into the logistics chain, with no change in customer behavior. Customers will still receive their packages from a van driver in the exact same way they receive it today.
- Gives retailers and logistics companies the ability to provide customers a true on-demand delivery solution, without the need for additional infrastructure. And, it allows companies with van fleets to further leverage them and add on-demand services.
- Allows drones to land on the roof of a Vito van, approximately two meters above ground, ensuring the safety for passers-by.
In September, Matternet announced a key component of the delivery system – the Matternet Station. The logistics hub is only 2 square meters and can be installed on the ground or on rooftops. The Station controls the delivery process up to the last mile and guides Matternet drones to specific landing platforms to be locked down, unloaded and re-fitted with new batteries.
To demonstrate the system, Matternet launched an aerial courier service to transport blood and tissue samples between hospitals and pathology labs across Switzerland.