by Kevin Coupe

The Associated Press reports that a California drone company, Matternet, is involved in a test that has drones involved in the delivery of a variety of products in the Zurich, Switzerland, market.

Matternet is teaming up with Mercedes Benz and Siroop, a Swiss e-commerce startup, in a program that is designed to have the drones “speed up deliveries, buzzing over congested urban streets or natural barriers such as Lake Zurich.” However, the drones are not making deliveries to shoppers; rather, they “will take items from a distribution center in the Zurich area and transport them 8 to 16 kilometers (5 to 10 miles) to awaiting delivery vans. The van drivers then bring the packages to homes.”

According to the story, “The experiments come as big firms such as Amazon and Google have spent several years investing in drone delivery research. So have some traditional delivery companies that are eager to find new ways to transport small packages, which take up the bulk of the market. Several African governments have also embraced drone networks to deliver medical supplies in rural areas.”

I think this is interesting, since the assumption generally has been that drones would be used to deliver products directly to consumers. But what this shows is that drones actually could be deployed in a lot of ways to make the supply chain work more efficiently … and I think the broader lesson is that innovative companies are going to approach problems from a lot of different angles, and may find unexpected solutions.

Which is what every company and business leader needs to do.

It ought to be an Eye-Opener.