Switzerland tests delivery by drone in populated areas


FILE - Frieder Soenning, employee of the Daimler AG, presents the Matternet Drone-equipped delivery van ...
FILE - Frieder Soenning, employee of the Daimler AG, presents the Matternet Drone-equipped delivery van Mercedes Vision Van at the International Transport Forum 2017 in Leipzig, Germany, May 31, 2017.

Drones will help deliver toothbrushes, deodorant and smartphones to Swiss homes this fall as part of a pilot project, the first of its kind over a densely populated area.

Drone firm Matternet, based in Menlo Park, California, said Thursday it’s partnering on the Zurich project with Mercedes-Benz’s vans division and Swiss e-commerce startup Siroop. It’s been approved by Switzerland’s aviation authority.

Matternet CEO Andreas Raptopoulos says the drones will take items from a distribution center and transport them between 8 to 16 kilometers to awaiting delivery vans. The van drivers then bring the packages to homes. Raptopoulos says drones will speed up deliveries, buzzing over congested urban streets or natural barriers like Lake Zurich.

The pilot comes as Amazon, Google and Uber have also been investing in drone delivery research.

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