Back to the Future of Logistics

Martijn Graat
Martijn Graat

If you would ask somebody in 1996 what new concepts there would be in 2016 for delivering packages, I wonder if they would have said drones or driving robots.

Delivery drones especially have been in the news a lot since last year. One of my favourites is the concept patented by Amazon, which I wrote about in May last year. The “Bring it to me”-patent is a perfect example of Ship-to Person, as opposed to Ship-to Address, which is way too rigid for the time we live in. How many deliveries have you missed, because you weren’t home?

Rocket Mail

As far back as 1810, people have been envisioning (and testing) alternative delivery methods, like Rocket Mail, a concept which the US Navy tested together with US Postal in 1959. On the Rocket Mail Wikipedia page, it says:

German author Heinrich von Kleist was the first to suggest using rockets to deliver mail. While editor of the Berliner Abendblätter, he wrote an article published on 10 October 1810 which proposed using fixed artillery batteries to fire shells filled with letters to predetermined landing locations of soft ground. Kleist calculated that a network of batteries could transmit a letter from Berlin to Breslau, 180 miles away, in half a day.




Jet Packs

Another interesting drone-like concept was thought up by futurist Arthur Radebaugh, who envisioned mail carriers equipped with jet packs delivering mail. Unfortunately, between electric delivery vehicles, the odd Segway, and drones, we skipped the jetpacks. How cool that would be!

Jetpacks Postman

Both rocket mail and the jetpack haven’t become mainstream modes of delivery for packages. Drones and robots still aren’t either, but I’m sure that’s just a matter of time. I wonder what they will write about drone- and robot delivery 20 years from now…

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