HUL Gets a Feel of Amazon’s Drone-delivery Plan, Virtually
About 100 Hindustan Unilever executives from Bangalore took part in the session
Soon after Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos said in April the online retailer was testing drones as possible delivery vehicles, the US-based company held a video-conference with Unilever executives outlining its plans for the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), among other things. A Hindustan Unilever executive who attended the video chat said about 100 HUL executives from Bangalore took part in the session. “It was more of a web virtual session from Amazon office in US to all global centres,” said the executive, who did not wish to be identified. “People joined in, listened and saw the demonstration.” The Amazon headquarters in United States and Hindustan Unilever office in India did not comment to email enquiries sent by ET. Amazon has been working on Prime Air in its next generation R&D lab and the CEO unveiled the first model to the world late last year. The goal is to deliver packages in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles, Amazon had said. In his annual letter to shareholders, Bezos said that the Prime Air team is testing the fifth and sixth generation aerial vehicles, and was in the design phase for the eighth and ninth generation prototypes. The executive said the company had explored and understood the concept but was not keen on adoption anytime soon. Unilever, which operates in over 150 countries, has strong ties with Amazon. “We have a dedicated ecommerce team that works closely with Amazon to sell our products. It’s a very well integrated structure with Amazon,” said the executive quoted above. Hindustan Unilever does not sell via Amazon in India, but that might change soon, the executive said. Amazon is not the only company to have thought of drones for deliveries. US-based Matternet is looking to use small UAVs to transport packages weighing not more than 2kg. The company has carried out test runs in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where it delivers vaccines using this method, and a pilot is planned for Lesotho in Africa later this year. Another company, called Qui Qui is already launching delivery of medicines in Mission district in San Francisco.