Chinese online retailer Alibaba has begun testing drones as a goods delivery systems.
Unmanned aerial vehicles, colloquially known as 'drones', have recently become a more applicable technology. In fact for some time now online retailer Amazon.com has been speaking of the possibility of using drones to deliver goods to a customer, promising that with such a system customers could receive their goods as quickly as thirty minutes after ordering. To help push this forward, Amazon wrote to the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requesting permission to have trial runs of such vehicles in the US. This letter, drafted mid-way through last year, now seems to have been too late.
As of today, Alibaba has beaten them to the punch. The Chinese e-commerce company, partnered with logistics company Shanghai YTO Express, has begun a three day trial of drone delivery for specific kind of ginger tea purchased from taobao.com. If customers who live in Shanghai, Beijing or Guangzhou find themselves located within an hour's flight of a warehouse, then they will be eligible for a drone delivery test. This is, of course, only if the the package weighs less than 340 grams. It is estimated that about 450 customers will be fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of both ginger tea and the experimentation of this new delivery system.
For some time now it has been speculated that drone technology will change the face of logistics, as well as revolutionizing a large part of online retail. It will surely be interesting to see the results of these initial test flights, and it will as well be interesting to see if these flights push Amazon into expediting their own drone delivery system.
Will drones become the future of logistics and delivery systems? Do any readers find themselves close enough to the trail areas where they might need ginger tea delivered in extraordinary ways?