We reported on it last month with Iceland delivering sushi but now it’s official. We have now entered the age that autonomous drone delivery is happening in the public and in dense urban cities.

Previous drone delivery systems have all been limited trials or prototypes. Even the very few that were live services to the public were over essentially empty land or water such as the one in Iceland. This way there was far less risk if something went wrong and they fell out of the air. Now though, Matternet has delivered a new system for autonomous 24/7/365 delivery of up to 2kg.

Partnering with Swiss Post, they will be flying blood and other lab samples between hospitals in Lugano, Switzerland. As mentioned, this is over dense urban environments with people, cars and buildings everywhere. This marks a clear step up from other companies.

To fly over such dense urban environments the company and country air control must be a lot more confident in the drones. They need to know they aren’t violating air space around airports or helipads. They also need to have the required backup systems in case something goes wrong. This reliability stuff obviously isn’t super exciting but is what moves a technology from “a new toy” to “mature” and enables real world uses for businesses.

Autonomous Drone

The fully autonomous drone delivery system is a combination of the M2 Drone and the Station. The drone can travel at up to 70 km/h and fly a distance of 20 km. Carrying up to 2 kg or 4 liters it also looks pretty bad ass.


Autonomous Drone Delivery Station

The station looks very futuristic and has automated payload and battery exchange. Matternet’s software platform runs on it and manages all command and controls of the Matternet drones. This ensures there aren’t any collisions if two drones want to land on the same station.

Autonomous Drone Delivery

All of this adds up to a robust and proven system to deliver cargo around a real urban city. Matternet has their eyes on Germany next and has plans to move into other businesses besides blood too.

One of the things that excites me the most about drone delivery, besides it just being super cool, are the costs. Given how cheap it is to run and maintain systems like this I’m hopeful that delivery prices on small or light items will plummet.

Imagine buying some fruit from a grocer, having it delivered in 20 minutes later and only paying $1 for delivery! It would totally change the whole way people lived and bought things for the better. Hopefully more and more countries air traffic controls will start to permit these types of systems and we can get our pizza’s even faster!

What would you order if delivery was only $0.50 or $1? Let us know in the comments below!

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Alex Shoolman

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