Last-mile delivery has always been a burning problem for players in the logistics industry. Added to that, rising consumer expectation hasn’t helped the cause. Consumers demand one-day or same-day shipping which can be logistically impossible or economically unviable. Even major logistics companies only offer few items to be shipped within a day. Furthermore, delivering goods via road poses many uncertainties including the unavailability of drivers and uncertain traffic and road conditions. So how can logistics companies effectively tackle such problems? One area such logistics companies are exploring is the viability of drone delivery. Drone delivery can efficiently solve the everlasting last-mile delivery problem. Additionally, the ability to operate autonomously saves companies personnel costs along with fuel costs. Although such companies are currently bound because of regulatory hurdles, governments are looking at provisional measures to make drone delivery a reality.
Amazon Prime Air
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos revealed plans for Amazon Prime Air in the year 2013 and completed drone delivery after three years in 2016 by delivering a parcel to Cambridge, England. To implement full-scale delivery, the company plans to use miniature UAVs which will be able to carry loads of less than five pounds and deliver within 30 minutes to locations that are within the 16km radius of an Amazon fulfillment center. The company is planning to roll-out the service on a small-scale depending on country’s regulatory rules. Currently, the most significant challenge facing Amazon Prime Air is its ability to successfully navigate more tricky urban environment to successfully deliver the package. Once they figure out a solution using AI and get regulatory approvals, drone delivery would become a reality.
Domino’s Pizza is testing the possibility of delivering a pizza by drone. They successfully performed a drone pizza delivery in New Zealand by partnering with drone delivery service startup Flirtey. Such delivery option will allow the food giant to reach more rural customers and improve delivery times in congested environments. Domino’s Group CEO advocated for drone delivery system stating that it doesn’t make economic sense to deliver a two-kilogram order on a two-ton machine. With the advancements in artificial intelligence systems, drone delivery can be the perfect option for delivering food to the consumers quickly and efficiently. Their current drones can deliver pizzas within 10 minutes to any location within a 1.5km radius of a Domino’s Pizza chain.
Ukrainian Postal Service
In 2016, Ukrainian Postal Service teamed up with Flytrex Aviation to begin testing drone delivery service in Ukranian cities. The drone, named Mule, is capable of carrying loads of up to 3kg to a distance of 23km. The drone can travel at a maximum speed of 70km/h, reducing the delivery time to a mere 30 minutes. The logistics company has deployed a unique release mechanism in the drone to avoid parcels being stolen or tampered. The drone uses a battery instead of fuel and saves a lot of cost in terms of maintenance and fleet management.
Mercedes-Benz recently unveiled the Vision Van, which employs two drones capable of delivering packages of up to five pounds within a radius of six miles. The company partnered with drone startup company Matternet to develop the Vision Van. The Vision Van would enable the company to increase its productivity up to 50% in last-mile delivery service. The mini aircraft has already successfully delivered more than 100 packages within Zurich, Switzerland. The company has invested about $597 million in an effort to speed delivery times for online orders.
Workhorse is an American electric mobility solution provider that developed Horsefly, an autonomous drone delivery system. The device is able to carry a 10-pound package for about 30 minutes flying at a speed of up to 50mph. It can deliver packages at a meager cost of $0.01 per mile in electricity costs. The company claims the drone to work even in rain and snow, but wouldn’t handle high winds particularly well. The company is looking for an ingenious solution to overcome US regulatory rules that demand drones to stay within line-of-sight by mating the technology with its electric delivery trucks.
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