The history of airmail, which humbly began on the shoulder of pilot Earle Ovington in the form of a mailbag at an international airmeet in 1911, has now been recognised in futuristic heights at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
From that one single gesture of dropping a mailbag from the air, to a century later where humans are now testing and exploring the possibilities of drone delivery, blockchain and VTOL jets, and things have changed a great deal.
So much so that the Smithsonian is showcasing the emerging technology of drone delivery in a new gallery, named Thomas W. Haas We All Fly, which forms the ongoing evolution of the historic museum.
“We are excited to feature an example of Amazon’s work in the autonomous aerial delivery field—the Amazon Prime Air Hybrid Drone,” the museum has said in a statement.
The Amazon Prime Air Hybrid Drone was the drone that took place in the first drone delivery trials of late 2016:
Flying at heights of 400 feet, the Amazon Prime Air can deliver packages to customers from an Amazon warehouse in a 16km radius.
The model that will take pride of place in the Smithsonian is able to take off and land vertically (VTOL), allowing it to make deliveries without the need for a runway.
They have since developed a number of variants, which the online shopping giant has been testing in the US, UK, Austria, France and Israel.
Amazon have a number of ideas and patents about how to revolutionise the field of air delivery – some of them so out there they just might work.
One recent patent Drone Below reported on was a patent that intends to pay consumers cash rewards for allowing their homes to become ‘drone delivery beacons‘ assisting drones to delivery greater distances without the need for GPS (sometimes lacking in remote areas).
Another patent pictures a floating warehouse from which drones deliver packages, forming a supply chain ‘pitstop’.
The most interesting however is that of a patent showing drones being directed by shouting and waving recipients, presumably as they make sure the drone does not land in their backyard on say, a pet or child.