The euphoria for delivery drones has died down a bit recently. A patent application from Amazon has now surfaced that is supposed to avoid the main disadvantages of drones. The concept might sound familiar to observers from Germany and Switzerland.
A patent application that has now been published in the USA shows a new way to revolutionize the delivery of goods through the interaction between man-controlled delivery vans and automated robots. The patent number US 2021/0209543 A1 was granted July 8th. It describes a delivery van that serves as a base station for drones or delivery robots. The driver drives the car into a street, from where the robots swarm out and do the rest.
Smart van, stupid drone
The specialty is that the delivery van not only serves as a transporter for the robots – and the goods, of course – but also as a command center. According to the patent application, the vehicle should be equipped with radar, video, lidar and radio antennas and thus feed the “stupid” robots on site with the exact information they need to reach their destination.
The driver should not be underestimated either: In contrast to a drone that starts in the logistics hub and then has to cover the whole way to the recipient and back on his own, with this system a person can intervene quickly if there are problems handing over the goods gives. In addition, robots can be much cheaper if they are only designed for a short range.
Logistics experts from German-speaking countries could, however, be familiar with the concept. As early as November 27, 2017, our logistics newsletter (at that time it was not yet called “Delivery News”) reported on the “Vans & Drones” project, carried out by Mercedes-Benz and the Swiss logistics start-up Siroop.
At the time, Mercedes-Benz used delivery vans in Zurich that cooperated with delivery drones. Here, however, the chain worked differently: It is not the van that transports the drone to the destination, but the van is the destination that the drone is heading for – the driver then takes over the delivery. Since then it has become quiet about “Vans & Drones”, project partner Siroop has since been wound up.
It remains to be seen whether the Amazon patent will ever become a functional product. Everything is possible.
Source: com! professional by www.com-magazin.de.
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