Mercedes-Benz has been conducting a huge test using drones to ship consumer deliveries via drones and specially adapted vans, creating a working model of a system that could operate successfully in real life.
The drone test was done in Zurich where about 50 customers placed online orders like ground coffee and cellphones and requested same-day delivery.
The drones, developed with US based-Matternet, delivered the products to customers up to 11 miles away for the three-week test.
The test worked like this: As each delivery drone got closer to the customer's location, it then landed on one of four Vans & Drones Mercedes-Benz Vito trucks equipped with a special roof. From there, the Mercedes vehicle completed the delivery to the customer's doorstep
In 100 tests, 100 percent of the parcel deliveries were made on time to the right location with no accidents..
“Our expectations were all met -- our main goals were about the technical feasibility and execution,” Corinna Elosge, who coordinates the last mile logistics vans and drones project for Mercedes’ parent Daimler AG, said in an interview with Bloomberg.com. “We’re really, really satisfied because we had a perfect safety score.”
Using the vans to complete the delivery eliminates the extra time and costs incurred by on-road vehicles caught in urban traffic. Mercedes has installed on-board systems like digital sorting that will cut costs even more. As importantly, the Mercedes delivery model works with how customers expect a package to be delivered, as compared to tests with other drone deliveries where the products were dropped in the backyard.