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Mercedes Benz, Drone-Maker Matternet Aim to Tackle Last-Mile Delivery

A recent live demonstration of an e-commerce delivery by a drone reinforced the potential of drones to streamline last-mile deliveries - the final frontier of e-commerce logistics. At the late-September livestreaming of the delivery, the consortium behind the project announced a three-week trial of a same-day drone delivery service.

Using QR codes, the test drone was sent to a coffee retailer, where it picked up a small load of beans and flew them to a delivery van, made by project co-sponsor Mercedes-Benz, which incorporated the new package into its route. So, while the drone isn't going all the way to the doorstep, it's cutting hours out of the delivery process by adding the package to an ongoing delivery.

Algorithms redirect the courier vanís route to accommodate the inbound drone and delivery destination. Once the van and drone meet, the van takes over the final delivery, and the drone heads off to its next delivery.

The Matternet drone used for the demonstration flew at about 260 feet in altitude, for safety purposes. Drones will fly at this height for most of the delivery, and then descend to the Mercedes-Benz van, which emits a signal that guides the drone onto the landing platform.

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