- Drone Delivery can be seen as a drone application in goods delivery to the customers.
- Drone Technology still faces many barriers in the process of deployment and development.
- The Covid 19 pandemic is a catalyst for the development and expansion of the application of Drone Delivery.
Online shopping is becoming more popular, whereas last mile delivery takes too much costs and time. This fact requires solutions to cut costs and delivery time.
Along with the vast development of technology, expectedly, drones were created as an optimal solution. This new delivery model is being researched and tested by many technology startups, as well as big corporations in the world.
So what is Drone Delivery?
Drones are known as unmanned aircraft, which are remotely controlled, formerly used for military reconnaissance. Currently, drones are used more in daily life. Large companies such as Amazon, UPS are concentrating on the testing process to put it into practice.
Thus, drone delivery is an unmanned aircraft technology for goods transportation to the customers.
After a long research time, people have seen some benefits which drone application brings such as:
- Cost savings: by reducing the labor needed to operate the delivery process (drivers, managers, v.v.)
- Time saving: because of the high speed that drones can reach is much more than other types of transportation.
- Different locations accessibility: drones are able to deliver regardless of areas with convenient transportation networks or not.
- Avoid shipping errors: by reducing the maximum interference of humans.
- E-commerce acceleration thanks to cost-effective and convenient experiences.
- Safe delivery: especially in cases of dangerous and perishable goods.
However, it is must to mention some drawbacks of this technology:
- High fixed cost: the price of drones varies from $50 to $500 depending on the size.
- Capacity limitation: it is hard to transport too bulky or heavy orders.
- Privacy violation: drone technology uses built-in cameras to record the transport journey and determine the right location. Such continuous recording without consent would seriously compromise privacy.
Research and application status
Drone Delivery is still facing many barriers in the process of deployment and application.
First of all, issues related to law, testing drones is not allowed in some countries due to security reasons. In the US and China, there are no specific regulations on the control of drones.
Technical barriers also raised some problems such as: How can Drones reach areas without detailed maps? Direct landing or parachute? What about hills and apartments? How to ensure safety from unexpected collisions for drones during the flight? How to control the impact of weather factors?
In general, drone technology still has been improved a lot before going into practice.
Pioneers in this field
Wing is a startup project started by Alphabet (Google’s parent company) – has become the first drone delivery company to be approved by the US Federal Aviation Administration for commercial exploitation. Currently, the service is provided in 3 markets: Australia, Finland, and the US.
Amazon – Prime Air
The online retailer has tested Amazon Prime Air at some delivery end locations within 10 miles which only took about 30 minutes or less. Besides, Amazon is also testing Drone Delivery orders with a weight of 5 pounds (~ 2.5kg) in the UK, US, and Israel.
On August 31, 2020, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorized the drone used for this service.
At logistics companies, last-mile delivery usually takes up to 28% of the total transportation cost. UPS has reported that the savings could be up to $50 million per year by reducing about 1.6km from the daily routes of 66,000 delivery drivers.
By using drones, optimizing the process of transporting distances has achieved some certain successes. UPS’s drones are designed in the form of an octopus ladder with a payload of about 4.5kg; battery for a flight time of 30 minutes and correctly parked on top of a UPS truck.
Domino’s is a famous pizza chain that successfully deployed drones in 2016. Pizza delivery using drones only took roughly 10 minutes. This form is integrated into Domino’s online ordering system and expectedly become an important retail activity in the future.
Covid-19 pandemic – a catalyst for the development of Drone
The Coronavirus outbreak accelerated the need for untouched transportation. Some Chinese hospitals and clinics have deployed robots/drones to deliver medicine and food to quarantine areas to reduce danger of infection.
Amazon, UPS, Alphabet, Walmart, etc. have also experimented with drones to deliver medicine, necessities, fast food or even vaccines in order to reduce disease infection.