German automotive group puts deliveries of the future to the test: In a pilot project in Zurich, small parcels are being delivered to customers by a combination of delivery vehicle and drone.
Mercedes presented its van with drone pad concept back in 2016. The project has now reached the pilot phase, but has undergone a change. The original plan was that the drones would launch from the vehicle roof and deliver parcels to customers; a process also tested by the likes of logistics provider UPS. With Mercedes’ revised concept, however, the drones will now fly parcels from the merchant to a van, and the driver will then deliver them to customers.
The pilot project, "Vans & Drones" , has been running in Zurich since the end of September. The city has four pre-defined stopping points at which a Mercedes-Benz Vito van equipped with a landing platform awaits deliveries. Project partner siroop, a Swiss online store, delivers selected goods weighing a maximum of 2 kg to these rendezvous points using M2 drones from US manufacturer Matternet , which land on the roof of the vans and fly back again once they’ve delivered the goods. The plan for the future is to set up a dynamic system with no fixed locations, by means of which vehicles will be supplied by a drone at suitable stopping points along their route.