Drone Delivery Services are in Your Future. Here’s Proof

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…a drone delivery service?

Actually, with all of the work and advancements happening in the industry, it could very well be.

For years now, people have fantasized about UAVs delivering their goods. After all, who isn’t intrigued by the prospect of ordering your favorite items and receiving them in 30 minutes or less?

Why should you wait even a day for overnight shipping if you don’t need to?

Back in December 2013 Amazon’s former CEO, Jeff Bezos, showcased Prime Air on 60 Minutes. At the time, Bezos admitted that UAV technology needed to improve before the program could reach its full potential. There would also be significant regulatory hurdles to jump over.

Fast forward to 2022, and customers living in Lockeford, California, will be among the first to receive orders via Prime Air later this year.  

What was once only a dream is now becoming a reality around the world.

The COVID-19 pandemic was a potent catalyst for moving drone delivery services forward. The need for medical supplies in remote regions encouraged governments and innovators to work together and develop drone delivery services.

Thus, an incredible number of proof-of-concept drone delivery services were created. And, they definitely delivered… results (pardon the pun).

Now, with the technology proven, drone delivery services are expanding around the world.

For instance, the EU is issuing Light UAS Operator Certificate (LUC) for cargo drones, the Royal Mail wants a fleet of drones to deliver in remote locations, and companies worldwide are investing in UAV technology.

As we hit the mid-year point of 2022, let’s take look at a few of the companies in this space and how they’re revolutionizing the drone industry.

Walmart & DroneUp Team Up

With over 10,500 stores spread across 24 countries, Walmart is one of the world’s largest retail chains.

In 2020 during the height of the pandemic, getting supplies in the hands of many people became a major challenge.

Following successful trials with UAVs delivering groceries and other items, Walmart decided to move further into the drone delivery service space.

After partnering with drone pilot network DroneUp and Quest Diagnostics, Walmart began delivering much-needed at-home COVID-19 self-collection kits. The company hoped the drones would provide a contactless testing option.

And, they did; the program turned out to be a considerable success.

Less than a year later, Walmart invested in DroneUp, a partnership which continues to grow.

And, a recently announced expansion of its drone operations gives Walmart the potential to reach 4 million US households across six states.

Medical Deliveries with Zipline

If you’ve been around the drone industry for any length of time, you’re probably already familiar with Zipline.

The company has been using drones to deliver much-needed medical supplies to some of the most remote sections of the world since 2016.

Using its in-house built UAVs, the company’s drones operate autonomously out of distribution centers, with some locations capable of sending up to 500 deliveries per day.

As COVID-19 took the world by surprise, Zipline was ready to assist with a proven concept for delivering supplies to rural areas. 

Also partnering with Walmart in 2020, Zipline set up shop in Northwest Arkansas to make on-demand deliveries of select health and wellness products.

The drone delivery service’s success has shown the potential to expand into general merchandise in the near future.

Additionally, Zipline was also recently approved as an air carrier by the FAA.

DHL: A Major Shipping Company Looks to the Future

As one of the world’s leading shipping logistics companies, it should be no surprise that DHL sees the potential for drone delivery services. The Germany-based company operates in over 220 countries and territories and delivers over 1.6 million parcels annually.

UAV research has been a part of the company since it launched its first drone flight in 2013. Using a quadcopter, DHL shipped a small parcel one kilometer across the Rhine River.

Since that time, they have continued to grow their UAV capabilities. 

Now flying the Parcelcopter 4.0, the company is convinced their proof-of-concept drone delivery service is the future of logistics and ready for the mainstream.

DHL’s ultimate goal is to provide same-day service via drone delivery in cities and towns worldwide.  

Wing's Drone Delivery Services

Alphabet (Google’s parent company) is also making progress in the drone delivery space.

Since 2012, the company’s subsidiary, Wing, has been exploring how UAVs can safely deliver food and medicine. Now, their drones fly in Finland, Australia, and the United States. 

In addition to drone deliveries, Wing is also working to improve the Uncrewed Traffic Management (UTM) system.

Their OpenSky app is available for iOS and Android, allowing pilots to check for airspace restrictions, as well as file flight plans in the United States and Australia. 

As Wing increases its area of operations, they’re now focusing on providing drone delivery services that encourage a diverse network of operators, increased safety, and decreased cost.

Hand holding a trophy in the direction of a drone winner
Recent: These 2022 Airwards Winners are Redefining Drone Use - click image to learn more

DFS Helps Overcome a Major Hurdle

So, with all of these drones flying around, can they really do it safely, without interfering with typical, manned aircraft? After all, drones aren’t picked up by normal radar, yet still need to be tracked for safety reasons, right?

The German air navigation service provider, DFS (Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH) is already starting to put those worries to rest.

Controlling air traffic in German airspace, DFS and its 5,000+ staff make sure millions of passengers reach their destinations safely. In fact, Germany has one of the highest air traffic volumes in Europe.

Recognizing that commercial drone flights and drone delivery services hold incredible potential value, the organization knew safety concerns would need to be overcome. Specifically, in the area of monitoring all these flights.

And so, they went to work.

Over the few years, DFS has worked closely with Unifly to develop an uncrewed traffic management (UTM) system that allows the safe integration of drones into everyday lives.

At the same time, DFS also partnered with the largest telecoms provider in Europe, Deutsche Telekom, to create a joint venture, Droniq. Here, the goal was to operate remote-controlled long-haul flights.

Through these collaborations, they’ve developed an innovative solution to a complex problem.

Through the use of a special modem and SIM card, drones can accurately be tracked in real-time through the mobile network. In this manner, an exact position can be known and provided to the UTM, allowing safe, trackable flights.

The Key Takeaways

The future potential for drone delivery services is simply too irresistible for businesses and governments to ignore.

Of course, our list only represents a few of the companies in the space; expect to see rapid growth in this sector of the drone industry.

Yes, there are concerns that must be addressed & overcome, but every emerging technology comes with similar challenges. With the right investments, research, and innovation through companies like these, you might be surprised just how impressive drone delivery services will be in the future.

For remote locations or time-critical products (like medical supplies) drones offer a unique solution.

So, while your next pizza might not be ‘air-mailed’ via drone, that day might arrive sooner than you’d think.

So, which drone is right for you? And, how do you get started? Do you hire out or bring your drone program in-house?

At Consortiq, we help you find a better way with drones, from consultation and program implementation to actually doing the work for you.

Ready to learn more? Just complete the form below to schedule a risk-free consultation!

Picture of David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly, is an award-winning photographer/writer and licensed (FAA) Commercial sUAS pilot. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, David is a former Marine Corps officer with a BS in Oceanography and has earned his MBA from the University of Redlands. David has worked for Fortune 100 companies and has a background in aerospace, construction, military/defense, real estate, and technology.

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