Drone delivery is no pain in the Glass: DHL explores new tech to speed parcels’ arrival

The world’s largest parcel company is testing out some interesting new tech to help deliver its parcels.

dhl-parcelcopter-image www.spy-drones.com

Last fall, Deutsche Post DHL, the world’s largest logistics company, became the first in Europe to use a commercial drone to deliver packages, and now it may have notched up another breakthrough – finding a good use for the much-maligned Google Glass.

Google ended commercial sales of its smart glasses at the end of January, after the product failed to capture the imagination of consumers and drew privacy concerns. However, within the enterprise, there’s still a potential use for augmented reality. DHL, for one, is looking at ways to use the smart glasses to speed order fulfillment.

DHL recently partnered with one of its clients, electronics company Ricoh, on a pilot project to provide smart glasses to order pickers, the people in the warehouse who fulfill customer orders. Typically, order picking is done using a paper checklist and a scanner: the worker has to use the list to find the location of the product, scan it, and put it in the correct bin, and then check it off a paper list.

We thought that smart glasses would be the next step because warehouse workers would be able to do all the tasks with one device,” Gina Chung, project manager for DHL trend research, told ZDNet.

For the pilot program, ten workers at Ricoh’s warehouse in the Dutch city of Bergen used either Google Glass or VuzixM100 headsets to pick orders for three weeks. Software developed by German wearable computing software company Ubimax displayed package order information on the glasses, including location, aisle, and the quantity needed.

During the trial’s three-week duration, the ten workers using the smart glasses picked more than 20,000 items, fulfilling 9,000 orders – showing a marked increase in speed as well as a reduction in errors.

DHL estimates that the use of augmented reality increased their efficiency by 25 percent.

Workers reported that they liked using both of types of glasses, even though the Google Glass processor, which sits right at the temple, tends to heat up after long periods of use.

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Henry Sapiecha

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