Air mobility, of course, is not only for human passengers. Drone-delivery pilot projects have gotten off the ground in a number of U.S. locations, where Walmart, Amazon and other retail giants have shipped groceries and delivered pharmaceuticals.
One of the more interesting projects may belong to Alphabet subsidiary Wing, which now has operations on three continents. During a CES panel discussion, CEO James Ryan Burgess offered details on some of the more novel projects the company undertook in 2020.
In Virginia, the company helped a school library deliver books to students amid coronavirus restrictions. In Helsinki, Finland, Wing delivered meals to families who wanted picnics in a local park.
"We tend to focus on examples of things we know today, but I like to think about what we unlock that's different," Burgess said. "You are no longer tied to an address. There's all sorts of potential that comes with this new technology. And transportation is such an emissions producer, I think these devices can make a huge dent in our environmental goals, as well."
Not tied to an address. That's a phrase that U.K. startup What3Words has taken to another dimension. The company, which works with Mercedes-Benz on the automotive front, has segmented the world into three-meter squares and given each a distinct three-word address. Something.Like.This.
It's interesting to think about an address as insufficient. But in a situation where, for example, a rider wants to be picked up from a particular exit from a particular building, or if a city wanted to set aside very precise curb space for ride-hailing purposes, it could be extremely useful.
By delivering picnics in parks and helping drivers find precise locations, both companies provide some perspective on the limitations of conventional addresses and offer a new way to think about location.
— Pete Bigelow