Are Drones the Future of Delivery?

In today’s world, shopping is being done online more than ever before. Bespoke’s Paul Hickey says that “The days of the internet and online shopping being “just a fad” have come a long way over the years” (CNBC 2O19). In fact, in April “the total market share of “non-store,” or online U.S. retail sales was higher than general merchandise sales for the first time in history” (CNBC 2019). So, with this high demand for faster delivery times some are starting to turn towards a modern kind of technology to make these more prompt delivers possible. Drones.

“Unlike delivery trucks, drones can travel “as the crow flies” – skipping over traffic congestion and complicated navigation paths” (getelastic 2019). Because of this, drones can get to their destinations much faster and so these “faster fulfillment times brought about by drones could result in lower shipping costs for the customers, meaning more sales and higher revenues for businesses” (getelastic 2019). In addition to this, businesses can also lower their environmental impact by utilizing these drones to make some of their deliveries. However, even with all of these benefits there’s still a few challenges that we are faced with. “The most pressing of these are the airspace governance and legal barriers that physically restrict where drones can travel” (getelastic 2019). Having places where drones can’t travel make it difficult for nationwide drone delivery to become a reality. Additionally, there’s also “limited battery technology” which means “drones can only travel for small distances with very small loads” (getelastic 2019). Even with these obstacles Amazon, UPS, and even Domino’s have gone about testing drone deliveries. Amazon Prime Air “aims to deliver goods to customers in 30 minutes or less” and is “currently being tested in several international locations” (getelastic 2019). UPS is “testing drone deliveries, using the top of its vans as a mini-helipad” and “according to their estimates, eliminating just 1 mile from the routes of each of their company’s 66,000 daily delivery drivers could save up to $50 million” (getelastic 2019).

Before drone delivery can become a reality, companies need to work around the obstacles that are in the way of making this happen. The industry for drones continues to grow and if this can be made possible, it seems like it will be overall more beneficial for everyone involved in the process.


“Online shopping overtakes a major part of retail for the first time ever”

“Are drones really the future of delivery? [infographic]”


2 thoughts on “Are Drones the Future of Delivery?

  1. Nowadays, people often shop online rather than go out to a retail store. However, I often like to shop in a retail store so that I can get the product that I need as soon as possible. If online stores can use drones to deliver the product faster, I believe I will hardly ever go to a retail store ever again. However, use drones to make delivery can be very hard. According to “The business model has to also make sense from an economic standpoint. There won’t be much margin left in a burrito delivery after accounting for equipment and operating costs. If the service is not subsidized by the vendor, at some point the consumer will forego instant gratification if delivery charges become too high. Besides the capital cost, expenses from additional human labor may be needed to do things like swapping batteries and performing safety and maintenance checks on the drones.” For most companies to use drones to deliver their product may cost for than deliver by humans. The cost of maintaining the drones and battery changing can also be very expansive.
    There are also lots of other reason that it is hard for a drone to do the delivery. First, the carrying capacity is very important. For most drones, the carrying capacity is 3 pounds. This is going to limit the product that drones can deliver. Second, drones make lots of noise. When one drone fly by itself the noise may not sound too bad. However, if drones fly day and night around your house to make delivery. I believe the noise can make everyone carry. Third, lots of people do not like drones fly by their houses. Privacy is very important for many people. Drones fly around their house may make them very uncomfortable.
    I think use drones to do the delivery is a good idea. However, there are lots of challenges. Therefore, I am not sure that dones can be the future of delivery.

  2. With online shopping becoming more and more popular, the time has never been better for drones to come into the picture. The main appeal for drones over traditional shipping/delivery is the time saved by avoiding traffic and by having simpler pathing routes. Various companies have begun developing their own drone service which they envision will become the future of delivery. Pizza chains like Domino’s are testing out delivery drones that will be able to drop off pizzas at their customers’ homes. Traditional packaging delivery companies such as Fedex are trying to modernize their services through drone delivery. “Their plan is to turn their delivery trucks into a vehicle that will serve as a drone base, with a take-off and landing zone on the roof of the vehicle.” Instead of using drones for the whole delivery, they will only utilize them when “the driver is in the area that is close to the customer to avoid any further traffic hold-ups and delays.” However, the biggest issue with the current drone technology is that they can typically only carry one item, meaning they would have to go back and forth between base and drop-off point. This limit may be fine for food delivery, unless it’s busy and more than one food item needs to be dropped off, but for package delivery services that need their truck drivers to send hundreds to thousands of items a day, traveling back and forth between base and destination is not the most efficient option. Until drones are able to carry multiple packages, trucks will still be the superior option. Fedex is taking the best of both worlds through their mix of truck and drone delivery as the truck can still hold hundreds of packages and the drone can be utilized to bypass traffic and save time.


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