Drone-to-hand delivery could become a thing
Retailers and tech developers have piloted many creative drone delivery solutions in recent years as they try to envision the future of the last mile. But while most have focused on how to get a package to a customer’s home, one startup is working on getting it directly into their hands.
Cambridge Consultants’ DelivAir app allows individual consumers to order products from their smartphones and have them delivered directly to their current physical location, wherever that may be, according to Engadget. Using GPS technology, the app communicates the user’s location to the drone, which seeks out the user, sending requests for location updates along the way. When the customer sees the drone approaching in the air, s/he points the smartphone at the vehicle, transmitting a signal that confirms s/he is the correct user. The drone then lowers the package using a winch and returns to base.
While it might not make the most sense for bulkier packages, such as service could offer convenience for, say, busy commuters without stores on their paths to and from public transportation, or for people who work outdoors.
Being able to deliver directly to an individual, with no address necessary, could also put vendors selling custom products direct-to-consumer in more immediate contact with customers.
Amazon.com has received the most press for drone delivery with news of patents appearing every few months for concepts as futuristic and varied as mechanical beehives for drone deployment and drones outfitted with data collection capabilities.
Most recently, Amazon has been considering ways to use drones outside of package delivery. The company recently patented a method of using a drone to deliver a freshly-charged battery to an electric car, according to TechCrunch. This provides a potential solution for drivers who may run their batteries down to zero outside of the range of a charging station on long trips.
Logistics providers like UPS are also getting in on the drone innovation game, with solutions like truck-mounted drone deployment to fly packages to hard-to-reach delivery spots.
- DelivAir uses drones to deliver to people, not physical addresses – Engadget
- Amazon patents a drone that delivers a charge to power up EVs on the go – TechCrunch
- Should drones be used for data collection in addition to deliveries? – RetailWire
- Can UPS fly past Amazon in drone delivery? – RetailWire
- The future of drone delivery – Cambridge Consultants press release
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see practical potential in drones making deliveries directly to consumers outside of the home? Could such services become more popular than drone-to-home delivery? What would be the best use cases for direct-to-consumer drone delivery?