We know that Amazon is interested in developing the technology, but their regulatory problems with the FAA in the United States might have slow down Amazon’s plans. The scheme that’s been greenlit in Switzerland could pave the way for future projects all across the world, and no doubt many other technology companies will be watching closely.
Swiss WorldCargo, the air cargo division of Swiss International Air Lines, is working with the Swiss Post and US-based transportation drone manufacturer Matternet to test the practicality of using drones in various stages of package transportation.
The first Matternet drone, called the ONE, can transport items up to 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) over 20 kilometers – or about 12 miles – on one charge. The company hopes to use the drones to deliver light packages like medicine, documents, and parts.
Matternet previously tested its drones in Haiti, where it delivered medicine and supplies to inaccessible areas. The company now hopes to run three pilots in Switzerland and they have already flown more drone hours than anyone else in the world.
Our product is vertically integrated into a complete transportation solution. Swiss Post comes to us, we supply them all the technology (drones, landing pads, batteries, charging stations, cloud software) and they just focus on operations. Said Matternet founder, Andreas Raptopoulos.
Officially the project is designed to test the feasibility of drones delivering our mail, but it’s also about testing the “technical and business capabilities” of the drones themselves. Matternet is going to supply all of the software and hardware while Swiss Post focuses on the logistics of sorting and delivering mail using these small flying machines.
“Quadcopters may be the biggest invention in vehicle technology since the internal combustion engine” Matternet’s Andreas Raptopoulos told TechCrunch last week. “They allow us to build vehicles that are extremely simple mechanically and are 90 percent software which is bound to improve dramatically over the next three to five years. This platform will allow software to eat transportation.”