Have you heard of Alibaba?
If you haven’t, then just to let you know, it’s the world’s largest e-commerce company. It was founded in China in 1999, by an entrepreneur called Jack Ma.
Last year it surpassed the American population with 334M active customers (America has around 316M people). Alibaba has a market cap of $251b (compared to Walmart at $246b, and Amazon at $157b with only 270M active customers).
A few weeks ago Alibaba started testing drone deliveries of tea in the three test cities of Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou to a range of 10km.
Is it more of a publicity stunt or will it be able to successfully and securely deliver other types of packages?
Check out the video release by Alibaba Drone delivery
Jack Ma has has stated that he aims to expand Alibaba’s operations across the globe in order to reach a target of having two billion customers by 2025. So look out world!
Amazon, Google and DHL have also tested drone deliveries
Currently it’s illegal to deliver commercial parcels via drones in the US. However Civilian air space is expected to be opened up to all kinds of drones in the US by 2015 and in Europe by 2016.
Amazon was the first to push the boundaries in late 2013, when their CEO, Jeff Bezos told CBS television’s 60 Minutes programme:
“We can do half-hour delivery… and we can carry objects, we think, up to five pounds (2.3kg), which covers 86% of the items that we deliver.”
This was the first video that Amazon posted, showing a conceptual system called Amazon Prime Air to deliver parcels to customers.
Interestingly Google has also been testing drone deliveries in Australia since 2014. Google X, a division of the US-based technology company dedicated to making major technological advancements, tested Project Wing near Warwick in Queensland.
The first person in the world to receive a delivery from a Google drone was Warwick farmer Neil Parfitt, who took possession of a precious cargo of Cherry Ripes!
DHL, with Deutsche Post, has also tested flying parcels to the German island of Juist – the first time an unmanned aircraft has been allowed to deliver goods in Europe.
And in Singapore, Infinium Robotics, is testing using drones to deliver food and drinks for restaurant chain Timbre. The 5 1/3-pound drones can carry just over four pounds of food. They won’t be flying to tables directly but rather a wait station where waiters and waitresses can then take the food to tables, sending the drone back to the kitchen. In essence a more efficient system of service.
So look out! And look up! Where will this take society?