The future of items being delivered to your home without human contact is closer than we think. For the people of Christiansburg, Virginia, this is already a reality. Since October 2019, local Walgreens have been piloting a drone delivery service in collaboration with FedEx and Wing. This program started with just the essentials and has moved up to “baby packs” and cough and cold care packages.
This example with Walgreens is a great way to show how drone technology can adapt to cope with trying situations. Walgreens’ eagerness to deliver by drone during social distancing may have been a happy accident, but some experts hope that drone deliveries will help bridge the gap in other instances. Drone company Matternet, for instance, is targeting a specific use: healthcare.
The drones used for delivering small packages are not your run of the mill photo drones. These drones generally use 4 to 8 propellers and rechargeable batteries, this provides extra thrust. Delivery drones also have attachment capability for packages and can be larger for larger packages.
The benefits of drones being used for delivering packages seems limitless! The top benefits include:
- Reducing Roadway Congestion – less vehicles on the road
- Improved Safety – less heavy traffic on the roads and fewer conflicts between delivery vehicles and other types of travel
- Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions
- Greater Route Flexibility – delivery to more difficult locations will be made easier and faster
- Reduced Roadway and Bridge Maintenance Costs – less use by large delivery vehicles
With great benefits comes limitations. Delivery Drones and the technology behind them will likely face large hurdles before being widely adopted for commercial use. Some potential hurdles include:
- Limited Package Weight – drones are not huge, there for the packages they carry cannot be huge either
- Required Collision Avoidance Systems – as they become more common, there will be more in the air
- Airspace Control Regulations – just like with planes, the drones will have height regulations
- Constrained Flight Times – batteries only last so long
- Irregular and Unpredictable Events – weather being number one, wildlife, or sabotage could bring down a drone in route for a delivery
With all that said, some may feel that the pros outweigh the cons and may cause Drones for Delivery to never fully take off. The limitations and benefits are evenly matched and though this will take time and approval from all the right parties, it could be our future.