Digikala, the Iranian e-commerce website is taking the first steps to implement drone delivery system by organizing a drone design contest in Iran.

It may sound like a science-fiction movie, but Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or Drones are becoming more and more popular these days. In a couple of years we can expect to see hundreds of drones hovering around our cities to rapidly transport our packages in an efficient way. Digikala, Iran’s biggest e-commerce website aims to pioneer drone delivery in Iran by organizing a drone design contest which plans to present solutions to the hefty challenges of this type of delivery.

“Fast delivery is an important need of Digikala’s customers,” says on Digikala’s website. “With a look at tomorrow, we can see that drones are one of the solutions to this need, but implementation of this technology is associated with a couple of challenges.” It’s clear that Digikala has sensed the importance of adopting new technologies to further expand its brand in Iran and grow its footprints in the country’s e-commerce market.

Digikala’s design contest has 2 main sections: Design evaluation and main tournament. Mechanics, Electronics, Image Processing, the looks and the price are the judging criteria in the design evaluation. The criteria to the tournament are based on pickup and delivery methods, imaging system, battery life and the power source. Navigation skills and creativity are also two of the main technical challenges presented in the contest. The first teams in the design section, the tournament and technical challenges section will take home 10M, 20M and 5M Toman respectively. The team with the most collected points will also receive 15 million Toman cash making the total prize 50 million Toman ($14,000).

Since there are many technological and regulatory obstacles facing drone delivery services, the commercial use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) for delivery purposes is still in its beta phase. A couple of companies around the world have had initial attempts to make use of this technology. In 2013 Amazon revealed Prime Air, a drone-based delivery service to safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less from the time of ordering from the website. Amazon is still testing different designs and delivery mechanisms to find the best working types of drones for different environments.

The commercial use of UAVs for package delivery is still not legal in many countries, but hopefully as this technology matures and shows the safety of the service we can expect the regulatory issues to be also solved.

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