Drone Delivery of Packages Coming Soon

Auto maker investing about $560 million to design electric vans that can host aerial deliveries

Daimler AG said on Wednesday it would join with U.S. startup Matternet to develop drones for its delivery vans and invest €500 million ($562 million) over the next five years in designing electric, networked vans.

Just as car manufacturers are pushing into electric vehicles, logistics companies are turning to drones as a way to make parcel delivery faster and more efficient amid increasing urbanization and the growing popularity of e-commerce. Amazon.com Inc.,China’s JD.com Inc. and Germany’s Deutsche Post DHL AG tested drone deliveries, even though regulatory hurdles have kept the technology largely grounded.

Daimler said its concept was “unique within the van sector,” but the idea of launching drones from the rooftops of delivery vans is also one the U.S. Postal Service has been considering. Last year when the USPS called for bids to update its fleet, Ohio company Workhorse Group Inc. proposed adding drones to USPS vehicles. A spokesman for Workhorse, which has developed drones that can navigate to a specified delivery point from a vehicle’s roof, said the USPS contract had not yet been decided.

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