Imagine this, you receive a text message saying that your parcel is ready to pick up, but not from your local parcel shop or retail outlet as you might think, no – from right outside your house. Convenient, hey? But it’s not being delivered by a uniformed driver with a Proof of Deliver device either. No, this time it’s a drone hovering just outside your front door.
Just a decade this seemed like a sci-fi ‘Back to the Future’ style reality that we would only see in films. But with drones increasing in popularity and usage, many big retailers are seriously considering this as a way of getting their products out to customers in record time.
And no matter what you make of this idea, you can’t deny that huge technological changes are happening and almost nothing feels impossible anymore. In this guide, we’re going to take a look at the realities of delivery drones and whether these will be the delivery solution of the future or just a quirky idea that passes us by.
Companies considering delivery drones
There is strong evidence to suggest that drone deliveries could become a part of our day-to-day, with some of the world’s biggest brands already looking into this technology. Amazon is already pioneering the field with its prototype delivery service ‘Amazon Prime Air’, aiming to reach customers in half an hour or less. The retail giant has already begun working on its branded drones.
FEDEX and Flirtey have followed suit, trialing the idea of drone delivery and we certainly can’t miss the Domino’s “DomiCopter” from this list. The food company released a YouTube video a few years back that quickly went viral of their drone delivering pizzas to hungry customers. That said, they appear to have done little else with the DomiCopter since.
The benefits of delivery drones
There are some obvious benefits that come with drone delivery, otherwise businesses would not go through the effort of trialing this expensive technology (no matter how much we love the gimmick). The benefits for delivering products via drone are:
- Drastically cutting down delivery times (Amazon hopes to have customers packages out for delivery within half an hour of receiving the order)
- Delivery companies could reduce the cost of human labour
- In times like we have just experienced with the recent Coronavirus pandemic, it reduces the amount of human contact
- It’s a fun and quirky way to receive your packages
- Technology is always evolving and if you’ve got it, why not use it!
The negative impact of delivery drones and the limitations to this service
But despite there being some benefits to drone delivery, there are also a number of negative implications of this type of service. It would also have its limitations, meaning it might not be as cost-effective as first thought. These issues could be:
- Putting people out of work with bots once again replacing the need for human workers
- There could be a series of legal complications
- The skies might end up filled with drones which can be noisy, unsightly and distracting
- Most drones would only be able to carry one parcel at a time unlike deliver trucks which can carry thousands
Could this really work?
While this all seems like a terribly futuristic idea, it’s happening right now, with many business looking into the logistics and technology required to make this happen.
That said, this doesn’t mean that drone delivery will become a certainty in the future or that it will be a particularly popular service. There are a number of factors that will contribute towards the implementation of these services and whether they become a wide-spread practice or just a gimmick offered by Amazon and other corporate giants.
- The logistics and legalities
There have been similar ideas about technology in the past that have hit road bumps, just as delivery drones have. For example, self-driving cars or hover boards (that actually hover not roll along the ground). If these technologies have taught us anything it’s that while the innovation and creativity is certainly there, logistics, regulations and legalities can stop these from becoming a part of the future.
- The cost of drone deliveries
While using drones may cut the cost of human labour, businesses need to decide how much they would charge for a premium service like this and whether consumers would be willing to pay it. In order to make the journey worth the drop, costs for drone delivery may be much higher than the current postage rate we’re used to. This is because we can safely assume the creation and maintenance of these drones will not be cheap!
- The need for this type of service
In today’s culture of instant results and gratification, people have become accustomed to getting what they want almost instantly. From likes on an Instagram photo to next day delivery, we live in a time that is breeding impatience. This could be one of the major driving forces behind drone delivery, with people always looking for ways to get things faster.
Imagine, you’ve decided to go on a night out and you need a new outfit, you go online, pay and you’re trying it on within an hour, without having to leave your house… that would be pretty incredible! But a discussion must be had about whether we need these instant results or if delivery drones could be a step too far. And then there are delivery services that just don’t lend themselves to drones such as moving companies which require large items often in large numbers to be shipped across the country or even overseas.
Will delivery drones be a reality of the future?
It’s no secret that drones are being used more and more, for photography, film, surveillance and hobbies, but will delivery drones become a reality for us in the future? This idea has been floating around (pardon the pun) for a few years now since about 2013 and yet no huge strides have been taken with this type of service.
While only time will tell, it’s clear that some companies are already looking into this type of technology and if these prove to be cost-effective, popular and efficient, you could be seeing more drones taking to the skies over the coming years.