Everyone in the logistics industry is talking about personalising deliveries and making them more convenient for consumers. The thing is though, while lockers or parcel shops are convenient from the point of view that you can collect your parcel at a time that suits you, you still have to go and collect your parcel. Equally knowing a parcel will be delivered to your house at a certain time saves you staying in all day, generally you still have to be at home.
The ultimate for the delivery industry is to get to the stage where parcels follow the recipient and are delivered to them in person wherever they are whenever they want to receive the goods. That’s not only expensive but pretty impossible to achieve, although carriers such as DPD will already notice that you’re not home and delay your delivery until you return which is pretty neat. Redelivery when you’re home is part of DPD Precise. Even Amazon’s new in-car delivery service is limited to new models and only certain car brands
Deliveries that chase you are still the goal however, why do you need to be in a particular place at a set time to receive a parcel? That’s where the boffins at Cambridge Consultants come in. They have developed DelivAir, a drone delivery concept that can deliver a package straight to the hands of its recipient, no matter where they are located… even if they are on the move.
The delivery starts by using GPS to navigate to a user’s smart phone location, periodically requesting secure location updates during the flight until it arrives within visual range – if you move so does the drone’s destination. Then the drone switches to precision optical tracking and a 3D imaging and ranging system to both locate and authenticate the recipient.
When the drone reaches the the consumer, they point their mobile phone flash LED to the sky which blinks a coded pattern, allowing the drone to verify that it is delivering to the correct person. The drone moves directly above this flashing LED, remaining at a safe height above ground. The package is then lowered down into the recipient’s hands, using a stabilising winch to keep the package steady, where it is then simply unhitched by the recipient and the drone returns to its base.
This type of delivery is ideal for items needed immediately – if you’re having a picnic and realise you’ve run out of bubbly or remembered the beer but not the bottle opener DelivAir could be your saviour. More serious use cases could be the delivery of emergency medical supplies, but food deliveries are also a very real possibility.
Drones are still at the stage where the occasional delivery test in line of sight of the operator are as far as we’ve got and consumers may not be ready to see the sky filled with packages being lowered to recipients. Widespread acceptance aside, as a concept a delivery that finds you wherever you are will appeal to many.