We See Drones in Your Parcel Delivery Future
The possibility of drones within the parcel delivery landscape has been long-discussed, but just how much of a reality is it? Regulations regarding the use of national airspace present the largest hurdle, as it’s not currently legal to operate a fully automated drone system in the U.S. Plus, there is still a need for greater technological developments for the drones themselves… But, we’re not that far off. Several companies, including Amazon, Airbus and UPS, have already began conducting tests to get ahead of the curve.
Most recently, Airbus Helicopters announced a partnership with the SingPost postal service company to conduct real-world trials of their Skyways drones at The National University of Singapore. Airbus will be introducing systems and structures that allow for drones to land, dock with secure structures, discharge and take on parcels. The initial phase of the trial could start as soon as early 2018.
You may also be familiar with Amazon’s Prime Air delivery system, designed to deliver packages that weigh up to five pounds in 30 minutes or less with the use of drones. This game changer allows customers to get their packages faster than ever before while enjoying a safer and more efficient transportation system.
UPS tested its own efficient truck-launched drone system this year. The drones were built by Workhorse Group for use on rural routes where delivery stops are miles apart. The driver can deliver at the first stop and launch the drone to a second spot, then drive to deliver at a third where the drone will reconvene with the truck. In this scenario, the driver could perform two deliveries at once, saving time, gas and ultimately money while also resulting in decreased vehicle emissions. This is one of the first companies to test incorporating drone delivery into their day-to-day delivery operations. UPS estimates that reducing just one mile per driver per day over the course of a year could save them up to $50 million.
The benefits of using drones for parcel delivery are numerous and extremely evident. With so many companies competing to create an efficient model, it’s only a matter of time and sorting out some legal limitations before a drone-filled parcel delivery system is realized.
Drones are being used for more than just parcel delivery, too. In late 2016, Unmanned Life and Prime Competence joined forces to design the world's first autonomous drone-based postal sorting center for PostNL, a Netherlands-based postal and parcel service. This caters to the booming demand of the e-commerce industry, which requires quicker and more efficient sorting and delivery to match online purchase volume. For more info, check out our blog post on the topic.