What is the Future of Drone Delivery?

Future of Drone Delivery
Future of Drone Delivery

What is the future of Drone delivery?

 What if your package arrived a mere 30 minutes after placing the order?

How would you feel if your online orders were delivered by flying automated Drone delivery? Or perhaps a six-wheeled delivery drone robot zooming around the footpaths in your local neighbourhood?

You might find automated drone deliveries to be a bizarre concept. Perhaps even just the thought of a machine delivering your goods feels downright creepy – especially when it comes right to your front door.

Drone delivery and Home Delivery

Nearly seven years ago, Jeff Bezos appeared on 60 Minutes touting his idea for using drones for last mile deliveries. In those seven years, we have certainly come a long way, but are not quite where Bezos thought we would be. Many companies have been testing drone deliveries for the last few years, and after the FAA eased restrictions and approved a number of pilot tests, the technology has grown by leaps and bounds. Amazon itself has won a number of patents to further its drone operations including a floating blimp-like warehouse that would deploy drones for deliveries.

How Do Drone delivery Work?

Although it may sound futuristic, the basic concept of a delivery drone is relatively simple: it’s an autonomous machine that uses GPS to transport a parcel to a designated location.

But of course, taking this basic idea and turning it into a reliable, safe, and scalable solution is where things get very complicated.

In the world of autonomous delivery, there are two main concepts in development:

1. Flying Delivery Drones

Flying delivery drones, also known as “rotary drones”, which are similar to the consumer models that have become popular in recent years. Drones are battery-powered and feature a series of small propellers that allow them to move up, down, forwards, or backwards, and stop or change direction with ease.

Most delivery drones are designed to carry small parcels over a relatively short distance, either from a delivery truck or a local distribution centre. While some models are controlled by humans, many are now completely autonomous – using GPS, satellites, and internal sensors to deliver parcels to a designated location while avoiding obstacles.

2. Package Delivery Robots

Package delivery robots that travel along footpaths at the speed of a slow jog. Models generally have four or six small wheels and weigh around 40 kg. They use a combination of GPS, LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and artificial intelligence to navigate to the delivery location while avoiding pedestrians, animals, and other obstructions along the way.

Packages are electronically locked inside and can only be accessed by the recipient via a smartphone app, which also provides tracking prior to delivery.

Drones as a Monitoring Tool

There have been tests of drones by big companies to see if they can be used to improve inventory accuracy. Some have told ARC they see real value in this application. It is hard to understand why they are bullish on this use case. In a warehouse that uses warehouse management system in combination with AutoID, inventory accuracy will generally be above 99.9 percent. Using drones to get that last one tenth of one percent accuracy does not sound like it would have good payback.

Drones and Coronavirus

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrust technology innovations ahead at a rapid pace. And while the drone use cases mentioned above all have seen upticks during this global pandemic, there are other use cases that have come to light solely due to coronavirus. The biggest use case has been the deployment of drones to enforce social distancing and monitor crowds.

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