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5 drone-based aerial delivery systems that came before Amazon Prime Air

Amazon Prime Air, a drone-based delivery system currently being tested by the online retailing giant, might one day fill the sky with autonomous flying machines. But Amazon is not alone in its quest for a better delivery system.

Yesterday, we reported on a segment of 60 Minutes over in the US, in which Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos provided a sneak peek at a quad copter-operated, 30-minute delivery service for small items within a 10 mile radius of Amazon fulfilment centres. These drop-offs could be years away because current FAA regulations prohibit the commercial use of drones in the States, but Bezos said he hoped to start Prime Air deliveries within four to five years.

Drones have made headlines for killing innocent civilians overseas, and of course for carrying out spying activities. But if those drones are suddenly dropping off packages filled with Kindles and candy, attitudes concerning their domestic use could change.

Citizens have traded their privacy for far less, from location-based mobile deals to ads based on browsing history. The boundaries of what we value get stretched as gratification grows.

Over in the US, Bayer MaterialScience recently conducted a search for better solutions to its current package delivery system with the Cargo Packs 2020 contest. And while the sort-of-icky Urban Mole sewer delivery system came in second place, none of the winners used drones.

That's not to say that Amazon is first with the idea, though. In this article, we’re highlighting five other unmanned aerial delivery systems – some of which were admittedly hoaxes, but ones that still used the idea…

SF Express

China is expansive, making delivery around the undeveloped parts of the country expensive. To combat this, delivery service SF Express is testing out drone delivery.

Flirtey Zookal

Android users in Australia will soon be able to schedule a rendezvous with a delivery drone by using the Flirtey app to get their latest textbook rental from Zookal.

Yo! Sushi

Diners at Yo! Sushi in London might not have to tip their servers soon. The chain is testing out delivering orders to tables with quadcopters at their Soho location and if all goes well, the idea will be floated to its other locations.


Like so many things that sound too good to be true, such was the TacoCopter. The San Francisco Bay Area already boasts some of the best Mexican food in the US, but to think it could be delivered by octocopter was flying too close to the sun. The site turned out to be a hoax, but the dream lives on.


It was nothing more than a marketing ploy, but Domino's almost outdid Amazon's Prime Air with the DomiCopter this past summer. Alas, the pizza delivery system ended up just being an extra-cheesy stunt.