Are Delivery Drones Commercially Viable? Iceland Is About to Find Out

The Icelandic startup Aha takes on Amazon with basic drones bearing burgers

3 min read
Photo: Aha
Air Drop: Aha’s drone delivery service operates until 7 p.m. in Reykjavik on days that are not too windy, too snowy, or too rainy.
Photo: Aha

An Icelandic startup called Aha is using a Chinese-made drone and an Israeli logistics system to deliver hot food, groceries, and electronics to households in Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik.

It’s a world’s first, and one that flouts the standard aviation safety mantras. These drones don’t sense and avoid ­obstacles—in fact, they don’t even have cameras, radar, or any other imaging systems. They fly according to GPS coordinates, along routes certified free of trees, buildings, and other impediments. And with some 500 deliveries completed in the past five months, no injuries have been reported.

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The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
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A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof
DarkGray

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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