In Oranmore, a small town in County Galway, Ireland, you can now get a taste of a possible, instantly happy future for drone delivery. In a recently announced partnership with Irish drone supplier Manna, Samsung promises delivery of its smaller electronics such as phones and smart watches “within three minutes” when ordered by someone in Oranmore from Samsung’s Irish online store.
Manna uses “specially developed aviation drones” to complete deliveries, according to Samsung’s announcement. The ability of the drones to travel at speeds above 60 kilometers per hour (around 37 miles per hour) seems to be what guarantees the aggressive delivery times, although it only helps to operate within a radius of two kilometers from their dispatch center.
Both Samsung and Manna say they are “concerned” with expanding the delivery service across the country, but outside Ireland other companies have also experimented with drones. Amazon began testing its drones in the UK after receiving regulatory approval in 2016. In the US, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has also begun approving other small-scale tests, such as a UPS and CVS partnership to deliver prescriptions to a nursing home in Florida, and a Walmart test in North Carolina.
All of these tests seem to be in service of what is beginning to feel like an inevitable reality: next-day delivery becomes more like next-minute shipping. Regulators must agree on standards for drone flying to achieve this, and in the case of the FAA, freedom of flight will require new identification systems to determine ownership. Everything may seem like a long way given the pace of government, but like this Samsung stunt, there are more and more examples where the possible future bleeds into the present.