Drone for delivery parcels and all types of goods is receiving massive investment from some really big players all over the globe.  With large companies such as Amazon, Walmart, UPS, Google and many global postal companies investing in drone delivery projects, it looks like it is only a matter of time before their goal become a reality?

Will the day come, when we look above and see thousands of drones busily zipping along to deliver mail, parcels, medicine, pizza and any other small to medium sized item?

It is probably only a matter of a few years before we have our skies full of drones delivering parcels.  There certainly are many technical challenges to overcome.  We also have many widespread privacy concerns. Perhaps drones for delivering parcels will be limited to just far out hard to reach places.

Drones For Delivery – Investment Projects

As mentioned above there are some really big players investing in drone delivery for parcels.  Germany’s Post Office in fact beat Amazon and Google with it’s launch of the first drone delivery service.  France’s La Poste launched a program  in December 2014 to use drones to deliver parcels in all weathers up to 12 miles away.

Both Switzerland and Finland Postal Services already have drone parcel delivery test projects in place.  China’s is moving fast with drone delivery services. Their largest mail carrier firm SF Express is already using drones and deliver 500 parcels per day to remote areas.

That’s just a few mentioned.  There are many more mail and courier companies with active programs. This article looks at the pros and cons or the good and not so good reasons for deliveries by drone.  We also look at some of the technical challenges which need to be overcome.

1st Successful Commercial Drone Deliver Service

Through a partnership with the Government of Rwanda, Zipline will deliver all blood products for twenty hospitals and health centers starting this summer, improving access to healthcare for millions of Rwandans.  You can read further on this great delivery service further down this article.

Another terrific article is called benefits of drones and shows how drones are being used for good in advertising, cinematography, site surveying, mining, humanitarian projects, environmental projects and many other areas.  Here is another list of drone uses.

Drone Delivery Service – Is It The Future?

A little over two years ago, Amazon announced their smile emblazoned packages would soon be making their way to our homes via drone. At the time, most of us considered the idea either a publicity stunt or pure science fiction.

But lo and behold, the future of drone delivery is creeping nearer and nearer, as Amazon has already begun testing the Prime Air Delivery Service in “multiple international locations”.

While delivery by way of drone has numerous benefits, there are also some serious drawbacks that will need to be addressed before the system will ever meet with any major success.

Drones Delivering Packages: The Good

Drones Delivering PackagesWhen you break it down, UAV delivery is far better for the environment than traditional methods. Compare the impact of an airborne, battery-powered drone delivering your order versus a large truck traveling over the road.

There’s obviously an enormous gain when it comes to emissions and drones are energy efficient. This also applies when comparing it to you driving your car to the store for the same purchase.

Furthermore, the more people that take advantage of drone delivery, the less weight trucks will be carrying — which means there will be a far smaller impact on our infrastructure.

Using UAVs as delivery vehicles has another interesting side effect — innovation. The list of the FAA’s current commercial exemptions shows a surprisingly high number of businesses are utilizing popular mainstream drones with professional capabilities, such as DJI’s Phantom 4 Pro.

While these drone cameras do the handiwork for many industries, they lack the capability to carry packages and that’s where innovation comes in. The ubiquitous quadcopter configuration didn’t seem to work for Amazon’s purposes, so their research and development team created an new drone prototype to fit the bill.

Drone Parcel Delivery – The Bad

Parcel delivery drone with prop guardsOne major flaw in the concept is the lack of designated delivery zones. Packages delivered by hand to residences and businesses are deposited in mailboxes, placed on porches or left with doormen — options that simply don’t work for drone deliveries.

Creating an infrastructure of convenient and secure areas for packages to be dropped will take both ingenuity and a heap of money.

UAVs are incredibly vulnerable pieces of equipment, particularly so during landings. If drones are landing in unprotected areas near residences, they will be subject to potential damage by pets, children, and the odd shotgun. In such cases, not only would the expensive UAV be a loss, but so might be the package it was carrying. This could translate to millions of dollars in lost revenue per year, as well as some angry customers.

Last, but certainly not least, is the possibility of personal injury. UAVs are not a perfected piece of technology just yet and while they have safety features such as prop guards and ‘return to home’ systems, drone fails can and do arise arise.

If a delivery drone were to harm an individual (or damage personal property), the drone courier would be liable — leading to costly lawsuits and settlements.  For drones to deliver mail, parcels, pizza, beer and groceries etc, they will have to be 110% safe.

If Amazon and other companies are able to work out the kinks associated with drone package delivery, then this could be just the beginning of an exciting future of commercial UAV use. Let’s cross our fingers and hope for the best.

Drone For Delivery Challenges

There are so many technical innovations still required for drones to be used in their thousands, possibly even millions worldwide as a delivery service. Some of these technical challenges are;

  • Longer flight times – drone flight time average about 20 to 25 minutes presently.
  • Quieter drones – drone are quite noisy.  With thousands flying over us, we could be pretty loud.
  • Collision avoidance systems and ultra safe drones with no crashes are a must. Safety must come first.
  • Possible flight paths

There are many privacy concerns regarding drones.  It is no doubt that these the technical challenges will be found. The other questions is – Do we really want thousands or even hundreds of thousands of drones flying about delivering all types of parcels.

Perhaps, a drone delivery service will just be used in far out areas where it is not cost efficient to drive into the country side to deliver 1 item.  Perhaps drones will be used widely to deliver parcels where there is very little road or rail infrastructure.  Time will tell.

The below video shows of the new Yuneec Typhoon H which has real collision avoidance sensors which is a big challenge to overcome for drones delivery parcels.

Zipline – Commercial Drone Delivery Service

The world’s first commercial drone delivery service is in Rwanda, and it’s delivering blood.  The service is operated by Zipline, a US robotics and drone company. The drones drop blood parcels on parachutes outside remote health centers.

Through a partnership with the Government of Rwanda, Zipline will deliver all blood products for twenty hospitals and health centers starting this summer, improving access to healthcare for millions of Rwandans.

Rwanda’s government pays Zipline for the deliveries, each of which costs about the same as the motorbike deliveries used previously, according to Keller Rinaudo, Zipline’s CEO.

Health workers can request a blood drop via text message, and it arrives around 30 minutes later. That makes a big difference in a country where short road trips can take hours. Blood loss after birth is one of the reasons maternal mortality is much higher in poor countries than rich ones; it’s the leading cause of death in Rwanda for pregnant women. And blood has to be stored carefully and matched to the recipient.  You can read more on this new Zipline delivery service here.

More than two billion people lack adequate access to essential medical products, often due to challenging terrain and gaps in infrastructure. Because of this, over 2.9 million children under age five die every year. And up to 150,000 pregnancy-related deaths could be avoided each year if mothers had reliable access to safe blood.

Drone For Delivery Projects

There are many projects and investment capital being put into the areas of collision avoidance and drone delivery systems.  The potential in this field are huge and there are many slightly different fields of technology been used especially for collision avoidance.

Here are a few drone delivery projects which are ongoing.

Flirtey Conducts First U.S. Ship-to-Shore Drone Delivery

June 22 2016 – Independent drone delivery service Flirtey and Dr. Timothy Amukele at Johns Hopkins successfully conducted the first ship-to-shore drone delivery in the U.S. on the New Jersey coastline, for the United Nations and the American Red Cross.

“Imagine a future where in the event of a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy, Flirtey drones rapidly deliver emergency medical supplies, food and water,” said Flirtey CEO Matt Sweeny.

The drone collected medical samples from the shore and delivered them to a ship; then collected medicine from the ship and delivered it to the shore. The flights were autonomous and demonstrated how unmanned aircraft can provide life-saving aid to victims of a disaster, such as a hurricane.

Flirtey is the premier independent drone delivery service, with a mission to create the fastest, most efficient and customer-centric delivery service in the world. The U.S.-based startup has worked with NASA, the University of Nevada, Reno, The New Jersey Test Site and Virginia Tech to create the leading technology and logistics systems for a mass-market drone delivery network.

Project Helin  Drone Delivery Service

The Project Helin allows you to deliver any products with your drones autonomously and completely free. Helin have developed a platform which enables everyone to use their drones to provide a delivery service. It includes collision avoidance, route calculation, real time monitoring and is cloud based.  You can view a video on the Project Helin here.

Amazon Prime Air Drone Delivery Service

Here is a short video where with Jeremy Clarkson discussing the not too distant future of Amazon’s Drone Delivery Service.

Domino’s Pizza Drone Delivery Project

This next video is showing how your Pizza delivery by drone could be just around the corner.

Walmart Drone Delivery Service

In October 2015, Walmart applied to the Federal Aviation Administration on Monday for permission to test the use of drones for home deliveries and at its distribution centers and stores.

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