For many of us, a world in which unmanned drones are the main couriers for all parcel delivery, including business mail, in towns and cities across the world sounds very much like the stuff of science fiction.
However, with Amazon already having conducted not-so-secret testing for their Prime Air service, drone deliveries are set to become a very real part of our lives much sooner than we might have thought.
There is no doubt that drones could revolutionise the future of business mail. They are small enough to be able to be stationed at thousands of different local dispatch points across the country. This means that they’d be almost instantly accessible and would be able to be rolled out into action much more quickly than a delivery driver.
Drone delivery would cut down on costs too, once the technology is more firmly established. Without the need to purchase a van, then tax and insure it, then fill it with petrol and pay somebody to drive it, drones will come in significantly cheaper for single deliveries, provided that there is plenty of competition in the market.
Businesses could even have their own drones in order to make urgent deliveries without having to wait for scheduled pickups, and deliveries wouldn’t be subject to frustrating rush-hour traffic.
This would be particularly revolutionary for health-related businesses or legal practices: the ability to have signed documents returned in a matter of minutes would significantly speed up many legal and commercial processes.
However, it’s hard to see how drones would be able to conduct their deliveries without a fairly sizable shift in the available infrastructure. Experts are talking about having designated drone flight lanes to keep air traffic under control, plus the implementation of charging towers all across the country in order to make longer journeys possible.
Residential addresses would be a bit of a nightmare as there would be no guarantee of safe landing spots, recharging points or safe places to leave packages if the recipients are not at home.
Business-to-business delivery, on the other hand, is much closer to becoming a reality. It would be much easier and cost-effective to install the necessary adaptations to a business premises in order to facilitate the dispatch and receive drone deliveries than it would be to adapt people’s homes.
Businesses would be able to set up designated landing spots before signing up to accept deliveries by drones. These landing spots would be well out of the way of pedestrians and could be fitted with charging stations to refuel the drones if necessary. Even with these investments, the overall spend a business makes on deliveries could still be dramatically reduced as the price per delivery would be so much lower with the use of drones.
Even with these investments, the overall spend a business makes on deliveries could still be dramatically reduced as the price per delivery would be so much lower with the use of drones.
Of course, there would be limits to the capabilities of the delivery drones. They would be limited to a certain range and would only be able to carry a small weight compared to current courier methods. With no human driver or pilot to protect the drone, there is also an issue of security.
It’s easy to imagine drones being intercepted en route to their destination and confidential documents potentially being seized or tampered with along the way. That being said, these are all problems which will, in time, be ironed out.
With the potential of delivery drones for commercial use being so high, it is only a matter of time until the necessary infrastructure is implemented and business mail is sent almost exclusively by an unmanned drone.