Drones with pizza and medicines will dominate the skies

Drones will be an inevitable part of the future world where various products and even organs fly over our heads to fulfill customer orders or save lives. Many pilot projects have been carried out in recent years to see the potential of drone delivery, and drones are already serving e-commerce and healthcare, the main areas for which they are promoted.

A 71-year-old man who was saved by a drone-launched defibrillator in Sweden after suffering a heart attack in January is a good example of the latter. However, for the e-commerce industry, several companies have already rolled up their sleeves.

According to McKinsey, drones have completed more than 660,000 commercial deliveries between 2018 and 2021. As of 2022, McKinsey says that more than 2,000 drone deliveries are made worldwide daily. At this rate, around 1.5 million drone deliveries could be completed by the end of 2022. US-based retailers and tech giants are expected to lead this figure when we take a look at the drone landscape.

80 km/h at 120 m altitude

Amazon announced its drone delivery service, dubbed ‘Prime Air’, in 2013 and unveiled a new design for drone delivery in 2019. Falling behind schedule and facing setbacks due to accidents in 2021, Amazon has accelerated the process of R&D It is now preparing to begin drone deliveries in College Station, Texas, in late 2022. Amazon has partnered with Texas A&M University on the project, saying Prime Air’s drones can fly at 50 miles per hour (80 km/h) at an altitude of 400 feet (120 meters). In March, the tech and retail giant revealed plans to recruit 1,300 trial customers and operate 145 drone launch pads. Thus, Amazon wants to have 250 drones in the air and deliver 500 million packages a year.

200,000 Googlethe delivery

Wing, a division of Google’s parent company Alphabet, launched commercial services in the US in April, while the drone delivery service also operates in Finland and Australia. In the US, Texas is the first state to have Wing delivery, where customers can order from multiple stores. After an order is placed, an employee of the related store places the products in a package carried by the drone. When a Wing drone reaches its destination, it descends seven meters and lowers the package to be picked up. In March, Google said that Wing had completed its 200,000the delivery.

Walmart delivers in 30 minutes

In 2021, US retail chain Walmart announced that it will partner with drone startup DroneUp to deliver orders. Launched at delivery centers in the state of Arkansas, Walmart’s drone delivery service serves customers seven days a week and fulfills orders (for small packages) in less than 30 minutes, according to the company. Like the Wing, the drone is operated remotely to reach its destination. Drones hold quite a bit of promise for Walmart, as the company says that 4,700 of its stores, packed with 100,000 of its most-bought items, are located within 10 miles of 90% of the US population.

pizza pie in the sky

A drone carrying an extra large pizza is one of the best services the food delivery industry has to offer, made a reality by Dominos Pizza in 2016. That year, Dominos and its drone startup partner SkyDrop carried out with hit the world’s first pizza delivery in New Zealand. . Two companies worked hard to improve the service, and as of 2022, SkyDrop drones can deliver pizzas up to 3.5kg (which would mean one drone completes multiple orders). The SkyDrop drones will operate at an altitude of 60 meters and will have a parachute safety system to prevent unexpected hard landings of pizza payloads.

What are the other outstanding drone delivery projects?

  • UPS Flight Forward partnered with autonomous drone logistics platform Matternet in 2019 to deliver medical supplies to a hospital in North Carolina. A year later, the service partnered with CVS Pharmacy to provide medication to a Florida retirement community.
  • Launched in Israel in 2013 as a supplier to a drone manufacturer, Flytrex has evolved into an end-to-end delivery service, today delivering products for retailers, restaurants and stores. So far, Flytrex has launched operations in Reykjavik, Iceland, and the US states of North Dakota and North Carolina.
  • Germany-based Wingcopter began its journey as a drone manufacturer and today also offers deliveries, primarily for commercial and humanitarian purposes. Developing delivery services for many industries, including postal and retail services, Wingcopter undertook humanitarian projects such as delivering vaccines to Vanuatu in the South Pacific Ocean and rural areas in Ireland.
  • Zipline, dedicated to humanitarian operations, aims to help anyone around the world when they need medical supplies. The company has completed more than 100,000 business deliveries so far.
  • DHL Parcelcopter is a project developed by the German cargo giant since 2013. The Parcelcopter can carry a payload of up to 4.4 lbs (1.8 kg) and travel at a speed of around 43 miles per hour (70 km/h). h). ). The service uses ‘Parcelcopter Skyport’, a fully automated parcel loading and unloading system to facilitate the delivery of medical supplies in difficult regions. DHL Parcelcopter version 4.0 completed 2,300 km tests in 2018 over a six-month period to deliver medicines in East Africa.

Some obstacles to focus on

The drone delivery industry has huge potential and advantages for the future. They are environmentally friendly and significantly reduce delivery times in urban areas, while making it much easier to deliver vital goods to isolated areas. Most drone operations aren’t all that complicated or risky either: Amazon says that 86% of deliveries include items under 5 pounds (2.26 kg), and Walmart says that 70% of US orders weigh less than 5 pounds. km) radius. So what could go wrong in the long run? There are a few obstacles to focus on:

  • Business Insider reports at least eight Amazon drone crashes in 2021, one of which caused a 20-acre wildfire.
  • Resilience to range and weather conditions is a primary concern, as drone capabilities are currently limited.
  • The cost of training personnel and maintaining a drone fleet will increase as drone deliveries expand globally.
  • Security will be a major issue as there is no guarantee that firearms or hackers will not target drones.

Tech giants and start-ups will make life easier through drones, but they need to be 100% sure they won’t go berserk due to a cyber attack or flip over in the air while carrying pizzas.

There are many technological developments that will shape the future of transport and mobility. As technology develops, the ways of transporting goods and people are also changing. Learn more, download Fleet Europe magazine #129.

Main image courtesy of Amazon; first image in article courtesy of Google; second image of article courtesy of Domino’s Pizza; fourth item image courtesy of Walmart.

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