Logistics • 05.11.2018

Things are buzzing in Iceland: food delivery by drone

Will drone delivery service soon become a reality in Germany?

Iceland already embraces drone delivery. The delivery service offered by online marketplace aha.is in Reykjavík sends small remote-controlled helicopter drones, thus shortening delivery times and cutting costs.

His goal was to be the first in Europe and he accomplished it: Maron Kristófersson, CEO and founder of aha.is, Iceland's largest online marketplace, delivers orders from his customers by air.

Screenshot aha.is
Map of the meanwhile 15 delivery routes of aha.is
Source: Screenshot aha.is

The main reason behind it is it saves a lot of time. Due to the road conditions in Iceland, delivery by car actually takes a long time – there is only one busy main road that leads into town. Not ideal, especially when it comes to food deliveries. Meanwhile, the flight version saves 20 minutes because the drones just fly over the nearby body of water. The deliveries by aha, which has partnered up with 100 restaurants, are launched by an employee and can be either picked up at designated drop-off points (see map) or the customer’s own backyard. However, the latter requires the written consent of the buyer’s neighbors.

Once the delivery has arrived at the scheduled destination, the recipient receives a text message, confirms the delivery and the drone lowers the merchandise to the ground using a long wire. It’s quite an exciting experience, though some of the capital city’s residents question the safety of the unmanned aerial vehicles. Others are concerned that the air traffic disturbs wildlife and birds in the area. Nevertheless, the concept continues to gain momentum. While the company operated only two drones at the beginning of this year, it now flies 15. The delivery routes are predetermined, but the drones are permitted to deviate up to 700 meters from the target to reach the customer.

Long testing phase, fast implementation

It took 14 months to prepare and get permission for the first drone route. "Five public authorities had to approve the drone delivery service,” says Kristófersson. The visionary and his family operated the test flights themselves. While drone testers in other locations have to launch the aircrafts from a moving vehicle to test them in windy conditions and bombard them with water, there was no need for this trailblazer to imitate any hostile weather conditions. After all, in Iceland, you can have strong winds, ice, hail, rain, and snow all in one day, which is why his drones were quickly put to the acid test under real weather conditions. The drones won’t lift off in strong winds and extreme weather conditions. That’s when the electric cars come into play, which are still part of the retailer’s fleet.

The automated flying delivery vehicles handle up to 30 deliveries each day and transport three kilograms of weight. The flight time can take up to 25 minutes. According to Kristófersson, the flight range and maximum payload capacity of drones are generally expected to increase by 25 percent. He would like to be able to transport ten kilograms with his drones. In the future, six certified employees, so-called "operators" could each pilot twelve drones at the same time.

Amazon, UPS and Alibaba – Pilot tests in the U.S., UK and China

While the Icelander has already implemented his drone delivery vision, delivery giants like Amazon and UPS are still testing similar systems. “Amazon Prime Air” is a drone-based delivery concept that is being tested in Great Britain. In the U.S, UPS is trying to make drone deliveries in rural areas. Unlike Amazon, which launches its drones from a small central office, UPS dispatches its drones directly from the top of a package car, which features a converted roof (it opens, the drone takes off and lands on it again). While the driver makes another separate delivery, the drone flies to another nearby location at the same time and returns to the delivery truck, even if the truck has already changed its position.

In Shanghai, the delivery service Ele.me (owned by Alibaba) now also uses drones for food deliveries – albeit within an industrial area, Shanghai's Jinshan Industrial Park. Employees receive the deliveries and distribute them to the customers.

Will drone delivery service soon become a reality in Germany?

Admittedly, a delivery by air could definitely ease traffic congestion in some metropolitan areas. The booming e-commerce market and subsequent issue of faster, more eco-friendly shipping and returns management solutions urge us to look for alternative delivery options.

According to a comprehensive study in several EU countries, consumers are actually ready to use this form of delivery. Some manufacturers are already waiting in the wings to provide convenient payment solutions for drone deliveries.

But here is one caveat: If it is illegal in Germany to launch modest Chinese paper lanterns without first alerting the Aviation Authority, it’s apparent that this particular delivery method might be doomed to failure in the long run. Drone flights are subject to increased regulations, which would make a commercial operation far more difficult.

German logistics experts predict that drone delivery won’t take off in the long run: not enough space, limited capacity, and the list goes on. If anything, they consider central delivery points as an alternative, designed to relieve truck traffic on roads.

At the moment, European aviation authorities are still working on standard guidelines for drone use – though these are drones that play in a different league given their high 150-kg payload capacity. Yet it’s clear that drones have only begun their journey and are gaining steady momentum. And who knows? Maybe Germany will manage to embrace a new technology for once and give it a chance.

Author: Natascha Mörs, iXtenso - Magazine for Retailers

related articles:

popular articles:

Thumbnail-Photo: Rural convenience stores
14.03.2019   #marketing research #customer analysis

Rural convenience stores

“Indispensable Hub” for thousands of isolated communities

The Association of Convenience Stores has called on the Government to ensure that there is a level playing field for the UK’s 16,944 rural convenience stores which allows them to keep pace with new technology and continue providing essential ...

Thumbnail-Photo: LogiMAT 2019 wraps up with record attendance...
26.02.2019   #logistic solutions #event

LogiMAT 2019 wraps up with record attendance

Final report for LogiMAT 2019 in Stuttgart

The 17th International Trade Show for Intralogistics Solutions and Process Management attracted well over 60,000 industry professionals from around the world. LogiMAT has proven to be more than just a magnet for visitors: It’s also a ...

Thumbnail-Photo: First-hand material handling technology
21.01.2019   #logistic systems #logistic solutions

First-hand material handling technology

LOGIMAT 2019

All the world’s leading forklift truck manufacturers are coming to the 17th International Trade Show for Intralogistics Solutions and Process Management. Industry professionals from around the world gather in Stuttgart for a sneak peek at ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Mintel announces top global packaging trends for 2019...
09.04.2019   #sustainability #packaging

Mintel announces top global packaging trends for 2019

implications for consumers, brands, and manufacturers

Looking ahead, David Luttenberger, Global Packaging Director at Mintel, discusses the major trends influencing the packaging sector worldwide during 2019, including implications for consumers, brands, and manufacturers.Connected ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Transport logistic trend barometer 2019
11.04.2019   #logistic systems #economy

Transport logistic trend barometer 2019

Economic situation, Brexit, digitalization—logistics feels ready for the challenge

In spite of many political and economic uncertainties as well as numerous business challenges ranging from the lack of skilled personnel to digitalization, the logistics industry is confident that it will meet the challenges. Companies are getting ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Sustainable delivery routes in neighborhoods...
22.03.2019   #sustainability #delivery

Sustainable delivery routes in neighborhoods

Farmstead plans with customer groups and delivery windows

Farmstead, an online grocer, announced the launch of its weekly Sustainable Routes to reduce the amount of vehicles on the road, reducing carbon emissions and Farmstead’s delivery costs. The savings are passed on to customers in the form of ...

Thumbnail-Photo: New challenges and opportunities for businesses...
06.03.2019   #logistics

New challenges and opportunities for businesses

Businesses are challenged to better manage their shipping and mailing operations

Pitney Bowes Inc. (NYSE:PBI), a global technology company that provides commerce solutions in the areas of ecommerce, shipping, mailing, and data today noted that the recent rate increases by FedEx® and UPS® and the pending January 27 rate ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Getting prepared for diesel driving bans
26.02.2019   #sustainability #logistics

Getting prepared for diesel driving bans

trans-o-flex orders 240 new special vehicles

The trans-o-flex logistics group has ordered 240 new transporters, trucks and trailers, all of which will be delivered and commissioned this year. The first vehicles will arrive in March. “On the one hand, we are investing in our vehicle fleet ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Logistic data as solid ground for successful omnichannel commerce...
10.01.2019   #data analysis #enterprise resource planning (ERP)

Logistic data as solid ground for successful omnichannel commerce

Instagram, Twitter and Co.: New ways to customer loyalty

Instagram, Twitter and Co.: Retailers and brands must find new ways to get in touch with their customers and remain like that. With the right software, they can extract and use important information from all logistical processes.The contemporary ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Revolutionizing the global supply chain
04.02.2019   #supply chain management (SCM) #logistics

Revolutionizing the global supply chain

IoT technology will provide opportunities for improved efficiency and transparency in the supply chain

The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the world around us in several different ways. Beyond influencing things like on-demand app development, it’s poised to make our lives significantly easier. We now have a vast array of physical objects ...

Supplier

EUROEXPO Messe- und Kongress-GmbH
EUROEXPO Messe- und Kongress-GmbH
Joseph-Dollinger-Bogen 9
80807 München