We often talk about how drones are not just cool gadgets that you can play around with or just a camera in the air for taking pictures and videos. The drone industry is growing bigger and bigger every year. Of course, most of the market is still filled with commercial and consumer drones that people purchase for fun and recreation, photography, or professional uses like blogging and content creation.
But companies, industries, and even the government and military have embraced the potential of drones for tasks such as surveillance, inspection, geo-mapping, security, rescue, and much more. It’s safe to say that drones are incredibly versatile and valuable, and in recent times, many industries are turning towards drones for the delivery of goods.
With the ongoing Covid outbreak that has crippled services in many countries worldwide, drones can be the perfect and safe solution for transporting various types of goods without human contact or involvement. So let’s take at some of the most noted recent events regarding the use of drones for deliveries and how different organizations are working to make it the future of logistics.
The Benefits and Challenges of Drone Delivery
The concept of drone delivery is nothing new, and it has been tried and tested for quite a few years. And yet, we don’t have a full-fledged drone delivery system in place on a large scale. The problem does not lie in technology – the drones we have today are perfectly capable of carrying and delivering goods.
But the challenge is that a large-scale launch of drone deliveries would see hundreds and thousands of drones flying daily. So there has to be a safe and viable system in place to manage drone deliveries.
With the disruption of regular services and lockdowns imposed in various regions due to the Covid pandemic, many organizations are now emphasizing drone delivery systems. After all, it brings many immediate benefits:
- No need for human contact
- Faster delivery, not affected by ground traffic
- GPS drones can deliver autonomously, reducing human effort
- Reduced delivery costs
With these things in mind, let’s see how governments and industries can embrace the concept of drone deliveries and make it a reality.
Green Signal for Drone Delivery of Covid-19 Vaccines in Telangana, India
India is one of the countries which has been hit hardest by the second wave of Covid-19. The country’s health system is struggling to provide proper care and treatment to everyone. Cities and urban settlements seem to fare better, but the remote areas have a hard time getting access to the required medicines and vaccines. That’s why the government of Telangana has come up with the project “Medicine from the Sky,” where they plan to deliver medicines and Covid vaccines in remote areas through drone deliveries in partnership with Dunzo.
Dunzo is an Indian delivery service founded in 2014, actively delivering all kinds of goods from groceries to medicines in various Indian cities. Working with the Telangana government, they will be handling the drone delivery of medicines and vaccines to some of the most remote locations in the state.
The delivery system has been designed in compliance with the regulations and policies set by the central government for a low-altitude flight of UAVs. The project is all set to launch very soon, and it brings a fresh ray of hope and relief for the people affected by the pandemic in remote locations
FAA Approval of Flytrex for Drone Delivery of Food and Retail in North Carolina
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration approved delivery company Flytrex for the drone delivery of food and retail goods in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Flytrex is a drone delivery company based in Israel, and they had partnered with Walmart in North Carolina last year as their pilot project. With the FAA approval, they can expand their operations to offer quick deliveries right to people’s backyards.
They have their app through which customers can make orders and even track the flight of their drones. Thanks to the stable flight capabilities of drones, even liquid items such as coffee and drinks can be delivered without spilling a single drop.
It’s interesting to note that the FAA approval still does not allow them to pilot drone flights beyond human line of sight, meaning they can only fly the drones as far as it remains visible to the pilot. However, even when operating within the line of sight, they have managed to cover a large radius of area for their delivery operations.
They plan to partner with the local fast food outlets, eateries, restaurants, and retail stores as their delivery project scales up. While the drone delivery of medicines and emergency supplies is often seen, it’s encouraging to see that even commercial goods, consumer products, food, and retail items are now being delivered through drones to people’s homes. And it’s definitely a big step towards establishing a large-scale drone delivery system in the future.
NASA Partners with The Different States to Develop Cargo Delivery Drones
Drones are getting bigger and better, literally! Imagine drones the size of cars that can accommodate human passengers and carry large shipments of goods. Well, it’s not just an imagination, as many manufacturers and industry leaders are working on developing large-sized drones that can carry human passengers and cargo deliveries.
And now NASA is joining hands with five states to make it a reality under their Advanced Air Mobility project. The partner states are Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, and Texas.
Under this collaboration, NASA will conduct various workshops in these states to educate and empower local authorities and companies to gradually create a sustainable air transport system with large unmanned aerial vehicles. NASA has also finalized agreements with more than 15 partners from the aerospace industry to perform experimental flight testing and development.
Of course, establishing a safe and reliable flight system with large drones that can carry people and deliver cargo will be more challenging than simple drone delivery of small consumer products to people’s homes. But with the efforts of NASA and their partnership with authorities from different states, perhaps the reality of Advanced Air Mobility can be expected sooner than we have imagined.
Public Perception of Drone Deliveries
There’s no doubt that delivery and logistics through drones will prove to be effective and beneficial. But what do people think about the development of drone deliveries? Are they comfortable with the prospect of drones flying above their homes regularly?
There have been surveys and studies conducted in this regard. Hawthorn Group published a presentation in 2019 that studied US citizens’ views on drone safety and privacy. It stated that 51% of people supported drone deliveries while the rest considered it ‘too dangerous.’
Another study, also conducted in 2019, by the PwC stated that 31% of participants felt optimistic about drone technology, 48% remained undecided and lacked the information to form a proper conclusion, while 21% had a negative attitude towards drones.
Fast forward to 2021, a recent study from Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP) demonstrated that regular test programs for drone deliveries could boost people’s perception of it. The BEYOND program by the FAA, which was conducted in Virginia, led to many test flights for drone deliveries. It allowed people to become more familiar with drone technology and experience it first-hand. As a result, the study from MAAP showed that 87% of people in Christiansburg, VA ‘liked the idea of drone delivery, and 89% said they ‘would use the service.’
So along with working on developing efficient drone delivery systems, there is also a need to acquaint people with this new technology before putting drones into the air regularly.
Those who are not too familiar with drones have shared concerns such as fearing privacy and security and the general doubt of not having complete faith in unmanned aerial vehicles. Test drone delivery programs can help clear such doubts from people’s minds and show them the benefits of using drones for deliveries.
With these recent events and advancements, it’s hopeful that we may soon see drones commonly being used as delivery systems. If so, it will be a considerable change in the logistics industry for good. Not only can we expect cheaper and faster deliveries, but it will also reduce the carbon footprint as there will be fewer vehicles on the street, being replaced by eco-friendly drones in the air.
With governments, authorities, and companies working together to make drone deliveries a reality, it will be interesting to envision a future where drones will be delivering us food, coffee, and shopping items to our homes.
What are your thoughts on drone delivery technology? Are you excited about it, or do you have some concerns? Let us know your opinions in the comments section!