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Sunday, 31 March 2019

Drone deliveries may soon become reality (but not if you live in the city)

Drone deliveries may soon become reality (but not if you live in the city): Ecommerce companies are looking to the suburbs to bring drone-based home delivery systems into the mainstream, Wall Street Journal tech columnist Christopher Mims writes in a piece on the legal and urban obstacles to having coffee ‘drone-delivered’ to your door before it gets cold. There are currently only a few operators licensed to use drones for delivery around the world. Safety concerns and the inability of large, densely-populated cities to accommodate the service are complicating those companies’ licensing runs. But suburbs are providing both a reprieve for lawmakers and an incentive for businesses to offer drone deliveries.

Iceland was quick to allow commercial drones to hover over its sparsely-populated, rural landscape, Mims notes. Iceland’s ecommerce platform Aha, a subsidiary of globally-focussed Flytrex, is projected to have its China-sourced drones cover more than 1000 households by June. The company’s parent has also tested its service in the suburbs of North Dakota. Another company on the forefront of the not-so-distant shift in delivery infrastructure is Alphabet Inc’s subsidiary Wing. Wing debuted in the US and Australia, and its most recent trials brought coffee and other necessities to 160 households in Canberra.

Five years ago, Jeff Bezos promised that drone delivery is coming “in five years.” Although we haven’t heard much from Amazon since then, “drones have become bigger, faster and more powerful,” Mims says. The main obstacle to adoption today is how fast commercial drone delivery is signed into law.

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