Amazon is taking measures to get its long-delayed drone delivery assignment. The company announced that it would establish its inaugural drone delivery service in the town of Lockeford, California, later this year after receiving the green light from the Federal Aviation Administration.
If the regulatory license goes through, it will be a significant milestone for Amazon, promising some understanding of aerial package delivery for almost a decade.
However, the company has had major setbacks, including several crashes, reports of alleged safety lapses, and high turnover.
Amazon says that Lockeford residents will be the first to receive Prime delivery packages delivered to their backyards later this year thru drones. “Thousands” of items will be suitable for it though Amazon doesn’t determine what type of items can be ordered.
Amazon says it is also designing technology to improve obstacle avoidance on the ground and in the air. And it is operating on enabling its drones to work Beyond the Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS). This technical term describes the operation of drones at distances outside the normal visible range of the pilot.
But these companies must be certified by the FAA, just like businesses that fly commercial aircraft. That suggests receiving the agency’s Part 135 certification, allowing companies to utilize a commercial drone delivery service. Amazon has acquired Part 135 approval, along with Alphabet’s Wing and UPS.
Ex-Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos first declared 30-minute drone deliveries in 2013. In 2019, the business previewed a redesign of its Prime Air delivery drone that can fly vertically and indicated launching drone deliveries later that year an unfulfilled promise.
The program has been beset by problems recently, including five crashes throughout four months at the company’s testing site in Pendleton, Oregon. Some former employees informed reporters that the program felt hustled and that workers who raised safety problems were being fired. However, Amazon asserted that safety was a top priority.
Drone deliveries were considered to revolutionize the movement of goods around cities, with companies like Amazon, Wing, and Uber promising to set up large-scale operations shortly. Instead, the technology has primarily focused on small-scale experiments, supplying vaccines and blood to remote locations. In the US, it has typically been limited to smaller towns, where land usage is less congested and complex.
Drones are already revolutionizing numerous industries, including construction, mining, agriculture, and recently logistics. Drone delivery is not new; many businesses in China have been offering choices on a small scale since 2013. However, since drone technology has increased, more companies are considering providing drone delivery services to keep up with customer demands and lower the costs of logistic operations. It has many advantages, and it is an industry set to increase exponentially over the next few years.
Advantages Of Drone Delivery
- Quicker Delivery Times Drones are easily deployed, and most drone delivery systems are semi-automated. The drone will hold all the info it requires from the central command to deliver the package to its terminus as soon as the box has been attached. Drone flight is independent, and there will be no issues with traffic and congestion. The shortest route will be readily calculated, and customers will get a precise arrival time.
- Reduced Costs There are several sites where drones for delivery will have decreased cost benefits and enhance a company’s overall bottom line. Drones are cheaper to buy and operate than traditional transportation methods for last-mile delivery. And because they are battery-powered, there is no expenditure on fuel. There are also reduced labor costs as the drone delivery process is thoroughly autonomous.
- Autonomous & Safer Delivery With precise GPS technology and state-of-the-art navigation systems, they will fly autonomously in the delivery procedure’s conclusive part. Packages will be provided at the customer’s residence or at a designated point where clients can collect the parcel by scanning a QR code or comparable.
- Comfortable Delivery To Isolated/Rural Locations These have greatly benefited rural and hard-to-reach communities, specifically for delivering vital supplies like medicine and life-saving equipment. Zipline is a drone delivery company specializing in this area. They have provided crucial medical supplies in countries like Rwanda and Ghana within 45 minutes of an order being placed. Drones have also been used to deliver covid-19 vaccines to many rural communities worldwide.
- Suitable For The Environment Logistics companies are constantly glancing at decreasing their carbon footprint to reduce fuel costs and fight climate change. Using drones in the final leg of their supply chain can drastically lower their use of fossil fuels, save costs, and help enhance the environment.
Disadvantages Of Drone Delivery
- Rules & Regulations lobbying government organizations to ease regulations makes it easier for companies to create a drone delivery service.
- Initial Costs The initial investment in bringing a drone delivery network infrastructure will be time-consuming and expensive. There will be expenses for the drones, making the delivery network, training staff to operate the system, and other related costs.
- Only provincial deliveries Currently, even most drones have a short flight time, mainly because lithium-ion batteries power them. Flight time is limited to around 1 hour, and this has to include the return journey. So companies are only providing drone delivery services on a regional basis.
- Weather Because of their relatively small size compared to other aircraft, drones will be susceptible to bad weather. Although many of those designed for delivery services have been built to be flown in rainy and cold temperatures, they will be a risk to operate in very windy conditions.
- Hack/Theft These drones will flow at low altitudes and be vulnerable to criminal activity. Some may even try to hack into the drone, take over its control system, and divert its destination.
- Privacy There may also be issues with privacy concerns of citizens; for security reasons, many drones will be fitted with cameras to prevent theft. However, if the camera continuously records during the delivery, it will pose some privacy issues.
Future Of Drone Delivery
The future of drone delivery looks very promising; this industry is set to increase over the next few years as more companies see opportunities to enter this area and establish themselves as significant player. The market for autonomous last-mile delivery is enormous. It is set to be worth a multi-billion dollar industry by 2030, with aerial drones playing a considerable role in this growth. Furthermore, as drone delivery has been instrumental in many remote communities getting vital medical supplies like the covid-19 vaccinations, people will be more open to getting their delivery via drones.