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An artist's rendering of the Dragonfly concept
An artist's rendering of the Dragonfly concept | © PriestmanGoode
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A Futuristic Vision for a Fleet of Urban Delivery Drones Has Just Touched Down in Hong Kong

Picture of Claire Lancaster
Tech & Entrepreneurship Editor
Updated: 26 March 2018
Of all the great tech innovations of the 21st century, online food and parcel delivery platforms have surely brought the most joy to humankind.

But in a case of serious buzzkill, ethical and environmental complications – from underpaid delivery drivers to the added pollution of of car trips delivering single burritos to customers across the city – suggest our global addiction to home delivery may be doing some serious harm.

But what if delivery could be quicker as well as sustainable?

Dragonfly, an integrated drone delivery system from London-based innovation and design studio PriestmanGoode imagines a future where autonomous drones become the primary service for mail deliveries in cities.

Demonstrating how urban areas can be adapted to accommodate drone technology, Dragonfly outlines the potential for drone systems to relieve congested roads in urban areas and solve the last mile parcel delivery challenge.

Speaking at the Great Festival of Innovation in Hong Kong, PriestmanGoode co-founder and chairman Paul Priestman said: “The rise in online retail is adding more vehicles to already congested roads, contributing to poor air quality. Combine that with rapid population growth in our cities and we have a problem. We wanted to create something that is non-threatening and which would enhance cityscapes.”

An artist’s rendering of a Dragonfly drone | © PriestmanGoode

In the vision, Dragonfly drones would pick up parcels and pass between buildings with soft analogue movements, docking on landing pads on the sides of buildings, and on rooftops, while autonomous barges would act as mobile distribution points and charging stations.

“Delivery drones for e-commerce is not a new concept. The technology is already being trialled by established online retailers. What’s new and interesting about our concept is the way we’ve imagined cities in the future being adapted to accommodate drone technology leading to a big step change in city development and does not require the use of the already congested road network,” explained Priestman.

“Buildings, for example, could be designed to enable access from different levels, not just by the front door. The banks of rivers, where all cities first emerged, are used again as major transport corridors supporting the delivery of the drone network. And the drones themselves are designed to enhance busy cityscapes,” said Priestman.

The company hopes the concept will help to gain public support for the future commercial use of drones.

For more on the tech advances changing our cityscapes, find out how Finland is revolutionising the future of urban transport.