Air & Space Smithsonian - - In The Museum -

The Sil­i­con Val­ley-based com­pany Mat­ter­net has con­ducted tri­als in Haiti, the Do­mini­can Repub­lic, Pa­pua New Guinea, and Bhutan for de­liv­er­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian aid. “Imag­ine Mother Teresa meets ‘ The Jet­sons’ ” is how com­pany co- founder Paola San­tana de­scribed the tri­als at a meet­ing of the As­so­ci­a­tion for Un­manned Ve­hi­cle Sys­tems In­ter­na­tional last July.

Most re­cently, Mat­ter­net has part­nered with Swiss Post and Swiss World­cargo; the trio will test small pack­age de­liv­ery this sum­mer in Switzer­land, us­ing mul­ti­ple Mat­ter­net ONE drones. The drones can carry a two-pound pack­age up to 12 miles on a sin­gle bat­tery charge. Mat­ter­net has am­bi­tious goals, which com­pany co-founder Andreas Rap­topou­los out­lined in a 2013 TED talk: The com­pany will pro­vide cus­tomers with the ve­hi­cles them­selves (about $5,000 each) and wants to set up au­to­mated ground sys­tems, as well as design an op­er­at­ing sys­tem that would man­age the en­tire net­work.

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