Autonomous drone logistics systems developer Matternet is forming a strategic partnership with Mercedes-Benz Vans to create the "future of delivery".

Through the partnership, the pair have joined forces to create an integrated delivery solution that will transform how people receive lightweight goods on demand. Matternet also unveiled its second-generation drone, M2.

Autonomous drone systems hold the promise of more efficient, faster and cheaper delivery. Mercedes-Benz Vans has unveiled its Vision Van, showcasing a new end-to-end platform for last-mile delivery, featuring a fully automated cargo management system and delivery drones.

Matternet developed the technology that is integrated into the roof of the van, allowing for precision landing and automatic payload and battery exchange. Its cloud technology is integrated with Mercedes-Benz's van routing software, allowing end-to-end control of the supply chain.

Andreas Raptopoulos, co-founder and chief executive, said: "We found a partner that is not only synonymous with quality, safety, reliability and efficiency, but is also willing to imagine and create the future of transportation with us. We are driven by a common vision to automate last-mile logistics, which today is the least efficient and most expensive part of logistics. Through this partnership, we are building solutions that will dramatically reduce the time and cost of on-demand delivery."

Matternet's drone and cloud technology were developed and designed with safety as a key objective. Its autonomous delivery network is claimed to be the safest solution available with certifications from leading aviation authorities around the world, including NASA and the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation.

Its system is designed to enable flight over urban, populated areas, not just rural and sub-urban. The drone is equipped with a redundant flight termination system that deploys a parachute automatically if needed, and uses intelligent software to ensure that the vehicle never diverges by more than 5m (16.4ft) from its pre-authorised path. Flight paths are automatically generated in approved airspace by the cloud system using terrain, airspace and population-density models to plan the safest routes.

The new M2 drone is completely autonomous. It can transport up to 2kg (4.4lb) and travel up to 20km (12 miles) on a single battery charge. It can drop and reload a payload and battery without human interaction, and features a smart payload box that can transmit data about its contents and destination. It also has precision landing capabilities and captures proof of delivery.

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