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Sweden ‘milks’ drone deliveries for a sustainable last-mile future

Sweden ‘milks’ drone deliveries for a sustainable last-mile future
Sweden ‘milks’ drone deliveries for a sustainable last-mile future

Food deliveries will soon be lowered with a cable from a drone in some parts of Sweden due to a trio partnership between private companies. Known as Foodora Air, three companies are combining efforts to make this last-mile delivery for Swedish residents a reality. 

It’s reported that the service will kick off in May with drones that look like “old-timey milk transportation cans.” Customers can use the Foodara app to order from a business in the area that qualifies for drone delivery. A remotely located human is used to supervise the entire delivery trip.

The team effort behind the drone delivery are telecommunications firm Tele2, grocery delivery platform Foodora, and drone manufacturer Aerit. 

Once the drone reaches its destination, it will hover while lowering a cable with the ordered goods. The items will be released, and the cable will be slowly removed. 

Meet Sweden’s first drone, Nimbi

Nimbi is Aerit, a drone manufacturer’s first delivery drone. With the features of a milk can, it can carry up to 4kg of payload and 10 liters or more of volume. It can fly 12km with an additional buffer for unexpected conditions. 

Regarding odd weather conditions, which can be a stumbling block for drones, Nimbi brings good news. It is designed and tested for delivery in rain and snow. This is ideal for the snow in Sweden, which can last up to seven months. 

It also can withstand strong winds and still perform in 12m/s winds with a theoretical wind limit of +20m/s. It can operate in cold weather of up to -15 degrees Celsius. 

Drone dominance competition

Drone Deliver Canada believes drone delivery for that last mile is becoming an “increasingly real-life phenomenon.” It has all the appealing features. “Fast, reliable, efficient, eco-friendly, and cost-effective drones offer a compelling solution to today’s logistics challenges.”

According to Art of Procurement, Walmart and Amazon are competing to be the leaders in drone delivery. “A recent change to FAA regulations in the area is about to make the 7.6 million people living in this region part of the race to drone dominance.”

In August 2023, Walmart initiated its longest drone deliveries, with operations at two Dallas locations. With the partnership of drone firm Wing, the aircraft can fly beyond the visual line of sight. It’s available to homes within 10 km of stores.

The US’ largest fast-food restaurant chain, Chick-fil-A, is also testing new last-mile delivery options with drones. It’s only available in a specific area within its 2km radius. 

Drone regulations red tape

Regulators in the US and elsewhere still work on beyond-visual line-of-sight  (BVLOS) regulatory frameworks. As regulations shift, governments see the financial benefits and drone delivery becoming more attractive for sustainability. 

Data firm McKinsey & Company says as regulations shift, companies could find “significant sustainability and cost advantages, making drone delivery a more attractive option for retailers and consumers.”

How does this work? McKinsey says that increasing the number of drones that a single operator can fly could potentially improve the underlying economics of the technology. The facts show that drones are a better alternative to emissions released during the last-mile delivery. 

McKinsey’s statistics show: “Per-package emissions for drone delivery are only 15 to 20 percent of the amount emitted for single-package delivery via a vehicle with an internal combustion engine.”

The firm believes this year, there will be “greater growth than 2023” in the drone delivery space as more companies can operate BVLOS.

NOW READ: UK government releases policy paper that paves the way for a drone future

Photo credit: Aerit 

About the author

Mia is a multi-award-winning journalist. She has more than 14 years of experience in mainstream media. She's covered many historic moments that happened in Africa and internationally. She has a strong focus on human interest stories, to bring her readers and viewers closer to the topics at hand.

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