The images of drone flying across streets and getting you your parcel are seen quite often on social media; the next in future transport technology as many tech magazines call it. The idea was talked about for quite some time, and seeing food and parcels delivered seems futuristic; no more postmen and delivery trucks choking the streets was the vision. Plenty of big names bought into this vision such as Amazon, Google and UPS, and they started individual ventures to make this feasible. But this was a couple of years ago and I still don’t see drones whizzing past with the socks that I had got during the winter sale- like Santa with a heap of deliveries on his sled.
So what went wrong? Read on…
The Challenges When Delivering With Drones
- Reach For The Skies; But Not With Drones Though
Most drones that are available on the market have altitude restrictions and can go no higher than 400ft above the ground. What if you need a package delivered at a house on a hilltop? Most drones set their reference at the ground level at launch, and they don’t have the ability to dynamically update how high they are flying from the ground below them in real-time.
Fly a drone from a hilltop and dip the drone down the hillside; most drones act funny thinking that they have reached 0ft and are about to crash. So the chance of delivering something slightly higher than 400ft is a no-no.
- One Pilot For A Drone
This is a logistical problem. Delivery drivers can haul a full day’s worth of delivery around town. The same cannot be said for drones. Only one customer can be serviced per drone trip and the drop will have to zip all the way back to the pickup point or warehouse. Plus one operator can only sit with one drone. One doesn’t need a wild imagination to see how absurdly unbalanced the man-hour cost will be- Totally not sustainable.
- The Weight Restriction
Even large drones that you can use for deliveries have absurdly low take-off weight- around 55lbs. The number of items and the size of each item is severely limited. Not to mention the hazards of weather. Come sunshine or rain, the delivery truck will be there at your residence. A little bit of moisture and a flying ball of ice is all that is needed to turn the $1500 flying gizmo into nothing more than a fizzing heap of electric scrap.
Drone delivery is an exciting modern transportation technology, no doubt, and it is true that the world is ready for drone; it’s just that drones aren’t ready for the world.