In September Mercedes-Benz announced that it will be investing €500 million ($562 million) in a drone-delivery company called Matternet. Mercedes-Benz, like Amazon, is betting that drones will be the future of small package delivery. They plan to join with Matternet over the next five years to develop a hybrid drone-van delivery network.
Unlike Amazon’s planned delivery network, Mercedes won’t be a drone-only operation. Mercedes plans to still utilize the cargo van to deliver most packages, but the concept van is equipped with two quadcopters developed by Matternet capable of carrying a small package underneath the units. The idea is that while the driver is delivering larger packages, the drones can be delivering the smaller packages to houses that are harder to get to. The drones, Matternet M2s, are completely autonomous, can transport up to 2 kilograms, can travel up to 20 kilometers, and can drop and reload a “smart payload” box without any human interaction.
The cool thing about the Mercedes Van is that there is a robot in the back of the van that will find the appropriate packages, and hand them to either the driver or one of the two drones. Traditionally there is a human to retrieve packages from the back of the van, so this concept would automate that task too.
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