A Canadian web marketplace looks to deliver by drone
September 11, 2015 04:20 PM
It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s, um, that package that I ordered online?
Canadian shoppers could be saying that by 2018 if all goes according to plan for Canadian online marketplace Shop.ca. The company has announced a partnership with drone technology firm Drone Delivery Canada with the goal of starting to deliver packages across Canada via unmanned aerial vehicle before the end of this decade.
That is, of course, if all the necessary legislation passes, testing goes well and government approvals are attained. Right now, it’s not legal to deliver packages via drone in Canada, though according to Transport Canada, that could change as soon as 2017.
Tony Di Benedetto, CEO of Drone Delivery Canada, says testing will begin as soon as next year.
“We’re going to be starting in the rural areas and then moving towards urbanized corridors,” he says. “As the solution becomes more perfected, then it’s going to move into the downtown core where there’s greater density, there’s more obstacles.”
Drone Delivery Canada will own and control the drones, which will be housed at Shop.ca’s fulfillment centers across Canada.
Here’s how it’s going to work: Drones will travel from one of Shop.ca’s fulfillment centers to a designated delivery point, be it a rooftop, a porch, even “on a boat in the middle of an ocean or a lake,” Di Benedetto says. The company will use GPS triangulation technology to direct the drone to the waiting consumer’s mobile device.
Once it arrives, the drone won’t touch down, rather it will hover about 20 feet above the customer to whom the package is being delivered.
So how will customers receive their packages?
“The package comes down on a tether,” Di Benedetto explains. “You’re receiving a notice (on your mobile device) that the package is there. Once you see it, you hit confirm, (the drone) takes a picture of you as proof of delivery.” The picture of the recipient is then sent directly to the mobile device to show who accepted the package.
Neither Di Benedetto nor Shop.ca would specify whether there’s going to be an additional cost to have packages delivered by drone. Di Benedetto also refused to specify what the weight limit for packages delivered via drone, only saying “our solution can deliver decent-sized packages. It can’t deliver a sofa.”
Shop.ca’s partnership with Drone Delivery Canada comes months after Amazon.com Inc., No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide, began testing its own drone delivery service at a facility in British Columbia for its Prime Air service. Amazon has been petitioning the Federal Aviation Administration to begin similar tests in the United States.
Di Benedetto says Shop.ca likely won’t be alone in delivering via drone in Canada by 2018.
“We’ve got partners throughout Canada,” he says, adding those partners will be named in the not-too-distant future. “Retailers, government service-type agencies. It’s a better, more efficient way of having products delivered just in time.”