Drone Delivery Just Around the Corner
The UAV industry has rapidly grown in the last decade.
Commercial drone capabilities, such as LiDAR, seemed like science fiction just ten years ago. Today, however, collecting aerial data and generating a range of useful products has become commonplace.
Significant advancements in design, engineering, and software coding have given drones the power to accomplish much in the last few years. That said, there are some areas in which the platform’s full potential is yet unrealized.
One such application is drone delivery.
Drone Delivery & Logistics
Professionals in the logistics world spend a great deal of their time on the “last mile problem.”
The digital age allows for many services and products to be accessible instantaneously. Calls, emails, videos, and images are literally at our fingertips whenever we need them. And yet, even with the many advances in technology characteristic of modern societies, this is still not the case for most physical goods.
Once items are shipped from a business to a customer, the logistics of getting those items into often dense population areas efficiently is what the last mile problem refers to. The most important factors in last mile problem solving are route density and drop size.
Route density is the number of drop-off points on a given delivery route. Drop size is the amount of items that can be delivered at each stop.
Each delivery cost will decrease with more drop offs, and with more items delivered per drop off. Many of the largest companies in the world are looking towards drones to help solve this problem.
Google, Amazon, Uber, UPS, DHL, FedEx, and even Domino’s pizza are invested in UAV technology. In fact, one of the first drone deliveries in the world was in 2016 when a Dominos pizza franchise in New Zealand delivered the first pizza via drone. These companies have been very public about the benefits drones potentially bring to their respective businesses and customers.
UAS Delivery Regulations & Limitations
There are three reasons why drones have yet to fill the skies with packages and pizzas.
Government regulations, along with poor performance in route density and drop size, are challenges holding back large-scale UAV delivery.
Government regulations that hinder UAV expansion in this area primarily pertain to limitations on commercial drone flights.
Most countries limit commercial drone pilots to flying within the visual line of sight. Regulations also require a human pilot to have control of the drone during flight. Such legal conditions make large-scale drone delivery challenging, if not impossible.
Why Companies Are Still Investing
Fortunately, many of the world’s airspace agencies, such as the FAA and the CAA, are slowly working toward updating these restrictions.
RELATED ARTICLE: EUROPEAN UAS REGULATION FURTHER DELAYED
Several countries currently have trial programs studying how to better manage UAVs in their airspace. Experts in the aviation field believe it is only a matter of time before drones are allowed to autonomously operate around the world.
For route density and drop size, even large operations like Amazon are testing drones that can only deliver one package at a time with a maximum weight of no more than ten pounds. Limitations such as these would make it seem as if drone delivery services will never get off the ground or compete with current methods.
So, why are so many companies still investing heavily in the potential of the service?
Like Amazon, some of the largest investors in the space see these traditional last mile issues as less critical to drones. For example, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos has pointed out the large number of people who live within ten miles of an Amazon fulfillment center, and that 86% of all products purchased on the site are under five pounds. Other expects believe 44% of all Americans live near fulfillment centers.
If these numbers are true, once government regulations ease up, the reality of 30-minute drone deliveries may be entirely possible.
Incorporating Drone Delivery
It is highly likely that, within the next few years, we will see the full scale of drone delivery services begin to take shape.
If you’re with a company that has problems with last mile challenges, you should take a serious look now at how drone delivery service can integrate into the current and future operations.
As regulations ease and technology continues to improve, drones may become the most efficient means of product delivery.
Consortiq is a global market leader of custom drone solutions. Our employees are driven by a mission to help corporations and state organisations leverage drone technology to accelerate progress and achieve the success they desire. At Consortiq, we base our solutions on intensive quantitative and qualitative research, hard facts, and deep subject matter expertise. As a talented group of drone and manned aircraft pilots, software engineers, defense consultants, and former air traffic control professionals, Consortiq’s employees understand the intricacies of aerial platforms and are able to provide a wide range of nuanced, effective solutions.
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