Drones already carry medicine to remote areas for UNICEF in Malawi, Africa.
Now Mercedes is getting ready to launch its second wave of electric vans, fitted with delivery drones and robots.
This Sprinter is an all-electric XXL-sized van with zero emissions and a range of up to 170 miles. It houses a robot “picker” in the back that feeds two autonomous drones through roof hatches and the van driver at the dispatch window. It can do three deliveries per stop. Plus your robot mice. And no “curbside time” is wasted re-sorting parcels.
The drones carry 2 lb. parcels within a six-mile radius. They fly off, deliver, meet the van at the next stop, reload with a new battery and parcel, and repeat. The driver has no steering wheel or pedals — just an Atari-like joystick that you push left to turn left, right for right, forward for accelerate and back to brake.
The digital dashboard shows all the driving data, satnav and drone status. And there are NO chunky wing mirrors to knock off. Those tiny aero blades, high up on the doors, house rear-view cameras.
Disco floor lights glow red or green to tell the driver when it is safe to jump out.
Mercedes-Benz Vans plan by 2020 to be a different company. Expecting to expand beyond the hardware of a van. They will provide last-mile delivery help with drones and robots.
The van will be the mothership and they will swarm out like bees. More deliveries, less time. They are convinced these technologies can increase the efficiency of deliveries by up to 50%.
Now we’re going to need bus lanes, bicycle lanes, robot lanes and low-fly zones.
Soon, we may need to contact mission control for a flight pattern before leaving our homes.
Key Facts: ROBOTS
Parcel weight: 10 Lbs
Speed: 4 mph
Range: 4 miles
Size: 30 inches long, 22 inches high
Risks: Vandalism. Theft. Or used as ride-on robots.
TRACK the robot like an Uber cab and unlock the lid with a smartphone code. Makers Starship.xyz insist there have been no thefts in 8,000 miles of testing in 47 cities. They have two-way audio, GPS and nine stereo vision cameras.
Key Facts: DRONES
Parcel weight: 2 Lbs
Range: 6-mile radius
Speed: 37 mph
Flying height: 50-100 feet
Risks: Being shot down by footballs and bricks.
DRONES use LiDAR sensors to avoid obstacles. These bounce infrared light off stuff to create a 3D map it uses to navigate. Tested by health charities in Bhutan and Malawi. Due to be certified by NASA.