Air & Space Smithsonian - - In The Museum -

For three days in Fe­bru­ary, China’s largest In­ter­net mar­ket­place—think ebay on steroids—used drones in an ef­fort “to bring unique and in­no­va­tive shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ences” to its cus­tomers.

The Alibaba Group de­liv­ered boxes of gin­ger tea to 450 shop­pers in Bei­jing, Shang­hai, and Guangzhou, each of whom paid roughly $8 for the ex­pe­ri­ence. The com­pany isn’t shar­ing much in­for­ma­tion, but ap­par­ently the re­mote-con­trolled drones were flown to cer­tain build­ings, and hu­man couri­ers un­loaded the tea and de­liv­ered it to con­sumers.

It’s not the first drone de­liv­ery in China; in 2013, In­cake bak­ery in Shang­hai used re­mote-con­trolled drones to make five de­liv­er­ies of its pricey $325 con­fec­tions. “The cakes are in­tended for cou­ples cel­e­brat­ing spe­cial mo­ments,” said the

. The bak­ery’s claim that a drone de­liv­ery is

Shang­hai Daily more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly seemed a bit ab­surd, as a drone op­er­a­tor fol­lowed each quad­copter in a car.

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