This week we're a step closer to a future where snacks can be air-dropped to us within minutes of ordering. While Amazon and other companies are busy navigating through the red tape required to get drones buzzing through the urban skies with their pizza payloads, the Icelandic city of Reykjavik has become the first in the world to be served by commercial delivery flights.
The civil aviation authority in Iceland has granted permission for the flights to drone company Flytrex and the country's biggest online retailer, AHA. According to the companies, Reykjavik's sparse urban sprawl, numerous waterways and winding roads make delivering goods via trucks a fairly inefficient method, but drones can make the trip much faster as the crow flies.
The runners of the operation will be Flytrex's Mule, an autonomous drone that can carry 6.5 lb (2.9 kg) across a distance of 6 miles (10 km). While it's not a full door-to-door delivery system just yet, the Mule will fly between two parts of the city separated by a river, cutting a trip that usually takes 25 minutes by road down to four minutes by air. Along with saving time, the company says the system will cut delivery costs by 60 percent.
"In the recent months there has been a tremendous increase in our online delivery orders, especially in the retail products and we are forecasting a very expedited growth in the grocery deliveries in the coming months," says Maron Kristófersson, CEO of AHA. "Over the last 4 years we have been monitoring online delivery solution technologies around the globe, and feel that Flytrex has a smart, safe and commercially viable solution to the problem. We hope to co-operate with them not only in Iceland, but also internationally in the future."
The service is rolling out in Reykjavik this month, and for now, drone delivery will work in tandem with AHA's network of trucks. Eventually, the companies hope to expand the service throughout the city and country, including dropping off goods right to consumers' homes.
The service can be seen in action in the video below.