Samsung’s new partnership offers another glimpse into the future of drone delivery – in just one Irish city

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In Oranmore, a small town in County Galway, Ireland, you can now get a taste of a possible, immediately satisfying future for drone delivery. In a newly announced collaboration with the Irish drone delivery company Manna, Samsung promises delivery of its smaller electronics such as phones and smartwatches “within three minutes” when ordered by someone in Oranmore from Samsung’s Irish online store.

Manna uses “custom aeronautical drones” to complete deliveries, Samsung announced. The drones’ ability to travel at speeds in excess of 60 kilometers per hour (about 37 miles per hour) seems to guarantee those aggressive delivery times, although it probably also helps to operate only within a two-kilometer radius of their dispatch center.

Samsung and Manna aren’t exactly groundbreaking with their partnership, though. People living in Oranmore may already be familiar with Manna’s drones that deliver everything from groceries to medicines thanks to a deal that Manna has struck with supermarket chain Tesco in 2020.

A Samsung phone packaged for shipping on a Manna drone.
Image: Samsung

Both Samsung and Manna say they are “excited” to expand the delivery service nationwide, but other companies outside of Ireland are also experimenting with drones. Amazon began testing its drones in the UK following regulatory approval in 2016. In the US, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has also begun to approve other small-scale tests, such as a partnership between UPS and CVS to deliver prescriptions to a Florida retirement home, and a Walmart test in North Carolina.

All of these tests seem to be in the service of what is becoming an inevitable reality: Next-day dispatch is becoming more like next-minute dispatch. Regulators need to agree on standards for drone flights to make that happen, and in the case of the FAA, the freedom to fly requires new identification systems to determine ownership. Given the pace of the government, it all seems far away, but like this Samsung stunt, there are more and more examples of that possible future thriving in the present.