What’s the Latest Development?
Researchers at several different organizations are working on delivery systems that will enable customers to receive packages while they are on the move. One of these systems, TwedEx from Microsoft Research, sends its parcels via a chain of individuals whose Twitter data helps an algorithm calculates the fastest route to the recipient. Each person would receive a specific time and location to hand off the parcel to the next person in the chain. Another system, designed by the University of Southampton’s James McInerney, uses cellphone data to map locals’ movements in rural parts of the Ivory Coast, and sends pickup and destination information via texts.
What’s the Big Idea?
Crowdsourced delivery systems already exist in which strangers serve as couriers. These systems work differently because the destination is a person, not a physical address. Andreas Raptopoulos is the co-founder of Matternet, a company that plans to use drones to bring parcels to people. He envisions a correlation between parcels delivered in this manner and e-mail received on smartphones: “An email doesn’t care where you are, we want to do the same with physical packages.“
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