Can 5G Power Retail Drone Deliveries?

Can 5G Power Retail Drone Deliveries?

The worlds of drones and 5G mobile network technology – two of the most promising trends in digital payments and commerce – are colliding. That’s because Valqari, which describes itself as the “creator of the patented Smart Drone Delivery Mailbox and provider of last-inch solutions for drone deliveries,” is working with Sprint on a smart mailbox connected to the telecom’s HTC 5G Hub.

According to a statement on Wednesday (Sept. 11) from the two companies, “the blazing-fast, high-capacity mobile speeds provided by Sprint’s 5G will be essential for making autonomous drone deliveries to smart mailboxes successful. Valqari’s Smart Drone Delivery Mailbox will use 5G LTE connectivity to ensure seamless communication with drones for a fully automated delivery process while also providing a reliable, universal drone receptacle for package delivery and pickup.”

Drones Rising

The news comes amid new developments in drone deliveries. For instance, to deliver prepared meals in dense urban environments, Uber is preparing to experiment with drones for Uber Eats. The company finished the first stage of testing in conjunction with McDonald’s at San Diego State University.

UPS, too, is going down the drone path – one that Amazon pioneered for retail delivery uses – and is seeking a certification to operate commercial drone flights. The company applied to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for Part 135 certification under a subsidiary business called UPS Flight Forward. It could receive the certification as early as this year, enabling UPS to have one of the first fully certified, revenue-generating drone operations in the country. The certification allows drone flights beyond an operator’s visual line of sight, for flights occurring day or night.

For its part, Amazon is also experimenting with other – perhaps sexier – shipping innovations. For instance, Amazon has begun using Scout, its six-wheeled autonomous delivery robot, in a neighborhood in Irvine, California, according to a report.

As the company had been testing the robot in Seattle, it was said to be accustomed to many different types of weather conditions, including that of sunny California.

“Over the last few months, Amazon Scout has delivered thousands of smiles to customers just outside of Amazon’s headquarters in Washington state. All the while, the devices have safely and autonomously navigated the many obstacles you find in residential neighborhoods – trash cans, skateboards, lawn chairs, the occasional snow blower and more,” the company said in a blog post. “Scout has even made a handful of furry neighborhood friends, like Winter the cat and the excitable Irish terrier Mickey.”

5G Efforts

5G, meanwhile, continues to see new deployments and real and potential use cases.

One recent example?

Verizon has outfitted 13 NFL stadiums with its 5G wireless service, allowing fans to watch demos of multi-angle instant replays.

In March, Verizon and the NFL announced an exclusive partnership to create 5G-enhanced services for fans attending games.

“It’s the start of [a] journey, and 5G is a big enabler,” Verizon Communications Inc. Chief Executive Officer Hans Vestberg said in an interview, according to Bloomberg. “We’re bringing new experiences to the seats, and we’ll see that this is how the fans will enjoy football in the future.”

In addition, AT&T will let attendees at the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium play with 5G devices.

“We’re always trying to improve the experience, not only on TV but in and around stadiums,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in an interview. With greater video capacity and less lag time, 5G will allow fans to engage with games without having to rely on the scoreboard, he added.

Since most fans don’t have the new phones required to experience 5G, Vestberg said stadiums are the best place to view the services.

Verizon’s 5G stadiums include those of the Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers, New York Giants and Jets, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans and Minnesota Vikings.

AT&T will host four 5G experiences at the Cowboys’ Sunday, Sept. 8 season opener against the New York Giants, including interactive videos with some players.

We can expect more such retail trends to match up and combine forces for new innovation in the coming decade.



The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.