Most of us thought electric drone delivery vehicles were totally new, transformational innovations. Turns out, they are old news. Here’s another example of how a curious exploration of bygone innovations in our past can point to new opportunities that could create value today.
Introducing the Milk Float.
Invented almost 100 years ago by our English friends, the milk float was an ELECTRIC VEHICLE controlled by a human who would walk in front of it, controlling the steering and acceleration by using a handle.
The dairy farmers would deliver fresh milk to the home delivery neighborhood hub where a fleet of milkmen would load up their milk floats with the inventory for the day, and set out for their home deliveries. Sound familiar? The postal service works basically the same way.
Milk floats eventually met their demise as grocers began to sell less expensive milk in plastic containers (some floats can still be seen in jolly ol’ England). But their spirit lives on through recent innovations such as Postmates and Starship Technologies’ home food delivery drone vehicles. They’re just milk floats without the person:).
IN THE END, perhaps we should be as curious about past innovations as we are about future ones. Want to know where future innovations will come from? Look to the past. Look for things that used to be operated by a human a century ago and find new applications for the same service today.