Drone delivery was a popular buzzword last year, but has the sci-fi tech gadget really taken off as promised?
Last year, INTHEBLACK reported on the “last mile” problem: in a world where consumers buy online, how do firms deliver their goods to them?
The answers range from bicycle couriers to bigger letterboxes to lockers to autonomous delivery vehicles – but several companies want to deliver parcels by drone.
The biggest of those players is Amazon, and recent statements by Amazon vice-president Paul Misener show the company is still serious.
"We believe that these Prime Air drones will be as normal as seeing a delivery truck driving down the street some day,” Misener told Yahoo!.
How you can use drones in business
Amazon is aiming for trips of up to 16km with parcels weighing up to 2.25kg, a weight that includes “the vast majority of the things we sell at Amazon”.
Different locations may use different types of drones, said Misener. Amazon is also working to get regulator approval from the US Federal Aviation Authority.
“It is very real,” added Misener.
“We believe that these Prime Air drones will be as normal as seeing a delivery truck.” Paul Misener, Aazon
Shenzhen-based SF Express is reported to already be delivering hundreds of packages each day by drone, and e-commerce giant Alibaba said in February that it would use drones to deliver tea to customers in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
Google’s Project Wing, which has been testing in Australia, has announced it aims to deliver packages by drone in 2017.
Other e-commerce players planning for drones include Walmart and Nevada-based Australian start-up Flirtey.