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Instant Gratification: The Future of Drone Delivery

October 17, 2021
Comment Chloe

The Covid-19 pandemic changed the way we think about every aspect of life and put e-commerce businesses in a position to reassess their business models. As a result, one sector that made significant advancements during this time has been delivery and postal services and their ability to offer contactless and efficient delivery of goods. The most futuristic option making progress has been drone delivery services.

Drone delivery is quickly becoming a future proponent of the delivery of food, medications, and other online purchases. Major e-commerce and delivery companies are in the process of furthering drone delivery patents to offer timely deliveries with lower costs and far fewer emissions.

While some picture this futuristic delivery option with hope and wonder, others view it with caution and concern. Many legislations have regulated drone usage with these concerns in mind however, it seems that humanity is close to experiencing normalized and frequent drone delivery.

What Are Delivery Drones?

Drones are more commonly associated with videography, used by social media travel influencers, and wedding recording.  Delivery drones are unmanned aerial vehicles that have a container attached or the ability to grasp and carry out food, medication, and parcel delivery, right to your front door.

Until recently, drone usage has been met with much legislation and regulation due to concerns around privacy, taking up aviation space, and other safety hazards. Delivery drones function autonomously and in November 2020, the Federal Aviation Association laid out criteria to further the progress of commercial delivery drones.

Why Are So Many Businesses Interested in Delivery Drones?

Major businesses like Amazon, Alphabet, and Walmart all have delivery drone patents as they seek ways to gain a competitive edge on the consumer market with the potential promise to offer fast delivery of goods at minimal costs.

The pizza company, Domino’s, successfully made its first pizza delivery using a delivery drone in New Zealand in November 2016. While everyone loves pizza, drones are already being used by companies like Walgreen’s to deliver prescriptions and pharmacy items to the consumer’s front door, increasing the accessibility to necessary goods.

Within the companies competing to lead the way in drone delivery, there is a further competition to reduce costs and emissions with companies like Alphabet using delivery drones that are powered by electricity instead of fuel.

The Pros and Cons of Drone Delivery Service

As previously mentioned, many businesses are hopeful for the ways delivery drones could make parcel delivery much more efficient and accessible for larger customer demographics than those currently reached by standard delivery services. Conversely, there are valid concerns with the potential increase in delivery drone usage.

The Pros of Delivery Drone Usage

  • The cost to deliver parcels with delivery drones is cheaper for companies than conventional delivery postal services which would result in lower shipping costsfor customers.
  • Customers would receive packages much more quickly and less handling means less chance of damage incurred while in transit.
  • There is increased potential for shareholder profit and economic stimulation.
  • Delivery drones increase accessibility to those who have limited mobility outside of their residence, especially for critical items like medications and other health products.
  • With an increase in social anxiety experienced among many during the pandemic, drone delivery services provide a safe way for people to shop without the stress of interpersonal interactions.
  • Delivery drones emit far fewer emissions than current delivery transport methods with some drones running on electricity rather than fuel.

The Cons of Drone Delivery

  • As has been the case with conventional drones, delivery drones can be viewed as a privacy concern for customers, utilizing GPS and cameras to locate the recipient’s house.
  • The increase in delivery drone usage threatens the jobs of delivery people and could limit career prospectswithin postal and delivery companies.
  • There is no clear solution to what needs to happen if a drone malfunctions mid-delivery and lands on a person or property.
  • Drones tend to be noisy and the normalization of delivery drones could increase noise pollution.
  • Currently, delivery drones are limited to urban and rural areas for same-day delivery however, they do not provide the solution to further remote or international delivery needs.
  • There are complex safety and liabilityissues around what could happen if delivery drones collide with other drones, people, animals, and objects.
  • These high-tech gadgets could become targets of theft and vandalism along with the parcels they are delivering.
  • It is still unclear how delivery drones will be able to provide consistent service in various weather conditions and temperate climates.
  • Drones cannot currently deliver large or heavy parcels such as TVs.
  • It is unclear how long it will take for drone services to build trust with the general public and become a normalized method of transport.

How Close Are We to Using Regular Drone Delivery Services?

Because of the concerns listed above, many governments remain hesitant about regulating delivery drone usage until there is more assured knowledge on how this technology can be utilized while minimizing the risks involved.

The Covid-19 pandemic spurred on major e-commerce based companies and governments to reassess and persevere on regulating delivery drones as society seeks ways for contactless shopping methods that are still timely and cost-effective.

Another buzzworthy issue that drone delivery helps address is environmental emissions. With the increase in online e-commerce traffic, emissions from local and global delivery have also increased. Delivery drones offer a much eco-friendlier way to deliver items without the emissions, however, this does raise questions over the sourcing of parts to build the delivery drones and their ability to be reused or recycled.

Some states have approved the regulation of drone delivery and the thought of the economic stimulation that could come from more accessible transport and shopping services has been enticing. For business and retail investors, drone delivery services could be a promising prospect for investments and financial growth in the e-commerce and postal sectors.

While some companies have already started drone delivery of small goods and parcels, there is still plenty of room for development and risk mitigation which is currently in the works.

Final Thoughts

Drone delivery opens the doors to accessible, efficient, and more environmentally friendly delivery options. While there are still many safety and liability concerns to work out, drone delivery is well on its way to becoming a normalized method of delivery. Keeping an eye on this technological development will be worthwhile.

Nerd Chloe

I’m a Nerd and very proud of it! I love to write about anything Tech related. Subscribe to our blog for helpful tips, tricks & news.