Drone delivery services are finally becoming a reality in our time, after lots of speed bumps slowing down the reality of it all. Current world events like the pandemic and global supply chain issues have shown the importance of such contactless, efficient delivery services. This is the next stage of efficient goods delivery and will be at the forefront of changing the consumer delivery and freight industry. This is further highlighted by a popular logistics phrase that states that; ‘the most expensive part of the delivery is almost always the final mile.” In 2013, Jeff Bezos announced that Amazon was in the works to launch a drone delivery service, allowing faster and better delivery for its Prime clients. Almost 10 years later, Amazon is still launching its service, but undoubtedly, they are much closer than before. Along the way, other players have swooped in and have already rolled out their services for commercial and consumer use.
Notably, two service providers have been approved by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) in Australia. These are Swoop Aero, which delivers medical supplies and equipment, and Wing Aviation Pty Ltd, created by Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc. They both contributed to over 100 000 successful trips last year.
While Swoop has been hailed for its advancements in the delivery of critical medications in vulnerable and remote Pacific islands, Wing has cornered the market by making strategic partnerships with local businesses. Wing delivers supplies, food, drinks, non-prescription medication, etc., at the request of their customers within a 10 km radius from their base of operations. The wing is doing deliveries for fast food from KFC and local retail chains like Coles. You can simply order your daily necessities from the Coles catalogue, and your groceries will be delivered within the hour.
For Swoop, the applications are still being used in a more closed structure and haven’t been rolled out for on-demand usage by the average consumer. However, Wing has opened up its services to its clients. All it takes is simply downloading the app and registering for the service. Of course, there will be a verification process that also needs the user to provide key information like their location data and intended address for deliveries, amongst other things. This is critical as the drones are wholly automated and use Alphabet’s immense resource network to map the location and steer the drone to the exact location of delivery and back to its base station.
Won’t the drone fly into airplanes or buildings etc? Not even! Amazon coined the term “sense and avoid tech” to describe how this works. The drone takes advantage of GPS, visual, thermal, and sonar sensors, allowing it to make 3D pictures of its surroundings. This makes it practical to avoid trees, poles, buildings, animals, and other flying objects.
The wing is already available in some suburbs in North Canberra and Logan. Swoop is authorized for drone deliveries within a 60km radius of the local airport in Goondiwindi. Wing has also rolled out in Texas and has plans to commence operations in Finland next.
Also Read: Fixing a Damaged Drone
If you haven’t signed up already, you probably should consider the upside to having such a service besides being an exciting way to step forward into the future.
Cost Reduction – The use of these delivery drones will offer a more efficient solution to cutting down the price of delivery. It reduces the costs and prices of the service and/or products.
Emission Reduction – The use of delivery drones also decreases greenhouse gas emissions, which is great for the environment.
Convenience – For young families, the elderly, the sick, and other new social groups like ‘work-from-homers,’ this service might be better placed to offer convenience as it saves time and helps them avoid an extra trip to get a few items.
With every new product and service that has the potential for change, there will always be some trade-offs that might be bearable to some but unacceptable to others. Most notably, there have been issues raised against;
Safety: Though the companies insist that there has been a case of their drones crashing, there have been incidents where the flights had to be grounded for safety reasons. As a safeguard, the companies have dedicated drone pilots who can manually take over a drone if needed.
Noise: The noise is a bit foreign to human ears and, as such, has caused some concerns. However, in response to this, most manufacturers have been improving the drones for quieter sounds, and Swoop recently released its new quieter drone called the “Kite” to combat this.
Security: Some people are uncomfortable that the drones come equipped with cameras and have cited privacy issues. However, the engineers from Wing and Swoop and others have stated that the cameras on the drones are simply for the drones’ guidance systems only.
The age of delivery drones is upon us, bringing closer the possibility of instant gratification and an almost instant shopping experience as the window between purchase and delivery is decreasing. Although this might seem like a frivolous luxury in some cases, this technology, for the most part, has had a crucial impact in connecting remote areas to much-needed services like health services, information, groceries, and other services. This proves that the application of this technology is instrumental in connecting the world to a better future.