It's hard not to get caught up in the romance of delivery drones, especially when start-ups keep producing spiffy promotional videos set in a fantastical land of airborne courier services. But underneath all this hoopla, progress is certainly being made.
London-based Bizzby Sky has begun trials of its autonomous drone delivery service, claiming it is capable of shipping small objects at the touch of a smartphone button.
The Bizzby Sky team has engineered its drones over a number of years at London's TechCity, Britain's answer to Silicon Valley. Their system is aimed at tapping into the ubiquity of smart devices and enable anybody to book their own delivery drone within seconds. Say you've got one of those semi-emergencies, such as a family member locked out of the house or the delicious sandwich you made for lunch this morning sitting neglected on the kitchen counter. Through the Bizzby Sky app, a user can request a drone, select the delivery location and the type of item to be shipped.
The app will then quote a price for the service and estimate the delivery time. Once the booking is confirmed, a Bizzby Sky drone will then be dispatched to the client's desired location using GPS so they can load their cargo. Items are placed in a storage box beneath the drone's body and can weigh up to 500 g (1.1 lb) before the drone is then sent on its way to deliver the cargo to its ultimate destination.
One difference between this and some other drone delivery approaches is that Bizzby Sky is designed to move everyday items between everyday people. Amazon Prime, for example, is basically an extension of its e-tailer service in shipping items out to customers after they are purchased.
As is more or less the case around the world, legislation won't allow Bizzby to roll the service out across England just yet, and it cites this as its main obstacle. It also concedes further work is needed on the drone's battery power, weight and flight distance before it is ready for market. In the meantime you can watch the demonstration video, which paints a rather captivating picture of utopia as delivered by drone.