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Mercedes-Benz Vito with integrated landing platform for Matternet drones
With integrated precision landing technology on their roofs, prototype Mercedes-Benz Vito vans turn into connected, safe landing platforms for Matternet drone deliveries. The goal of the project is to significantly improve the time and service level associated with on-demand delivery, and consequently create added value for retailers and consumers. The operation has been authorized by the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) following the Specific Operations Risk Assessment (SORA) methodology developed by JARUS (Joint Authorities for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems) and was approved by all relevant Swiss air and ground authorities. Safety is the guiding principle during the pilot, which will run for seven hours per day, five days a week in favourable weather conditions only. Matternet drones are integrated in the Swiss airspace system using the same sense and avoid system used by helicopter operators and other users of the lower part of the airspace; and are equipped with a parachute system that is automatically deployed in case of a malfunction.
Vans & Drones first presented in 2016 – siroop first pilot customer to test innovative logistics technology
The Vans & Drones project was presented by Mercedes-Benz Vans and Matternet at the 'Van Innovation Campus' event in September 2016. The pilot project in Zurich, with siroop as the first system user, is the next step in the advancement of the concept. The shipment is not delivered to the consumer by drone, but rather to the delivery van, which handles delivery for the final segment of the last mile. The use of Mercedes-Benz Vito vans as intelligent, mobile landing stations for Matternet drones is suiting for a variety of use cases and offers several advantages, including:
//Reduced overall delivery cycle and cost compared to existing courier service operations. Packages are delivered faster, irrespective of traffic in urban areas.
//Integration of drone systems into the logistics chain, with no change in customer behavior. Customers will still receive their packages from a van driver in the exact same way they receive it today.
//Gives retailers and logistics companies the ability to provide customers a true on-demand delivery solution, without the need for additional infrastructure. And, it allows companies with van fleets to further leverage them and add on-demand services.
//Allows drones to land on the roof of a Vito van, approximately two meters above ground, ensuring the safety for passers-by.
The Matternet M2 drones used in the pilot can carry packages of up to two kilograms over distances of up to 20 kilometres. In recent months, the integrated system has been continuously refined and tested extensively in preparation for operation in an urban environment.
"The pilot project in collaboration with Matternet and siroop affords us the possibility to test our concept in real-life on-demand deliveries. We want to gain valuable insights for this and further concepts enabled through van and drone technology. We have the great opportunity here to conduct the most extensive testing in an urban environment to date. Validating our concept together with customers and project partners in an early phase will greatly advance the development. We are demonstrating what a practical system comprising drones and vans may look like", says Stefan Maurer, Head of Future Transportation at Mercedes-Benz Vans.
"We believe that drone-enabled logistics networks will transform how we access goods every day — we will be able to order something online, and like magic, receive it within minutes, for a fraction of the cost and energy expended today. Switzerland is at the forefront of this technological revolution — this is the first time that a drone delivery network is operating in a major European city and the first time a van and drone network is operating anywhere in the world. We hope that this pilot will give us greater understanding of how the public perceives a drone-enabled solution for e-commerce today and pave the way toward extensive use of these systems", says Andreas Raptopoulos, Founder and CEO of Matternet.
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