McKinsey projects that autonomous vehicles including drones will deliver 80% of all items in the future. With 35% of consumers indicating that they are in favor of the concept, it’s clear that the use of drones is gaining popularity.
The 2Flow infographic below examines the benefits and challenges associated with cargo drones and highlights how this technology could massively disrupt last-mile delivery.
What are the benefits of delivery drones?
In today’s on-demand economy, consumers have come to expect rapid delivery times. Drone technology represents one way e-commerce businesses can accelerate delivery times. Unlike delivery trucks, drones can travel “as the crow flies” – skipping over traffic congestion and complicated navigation paths. According to The Walker Sands Future of Retail 2016 Study, 79% of US consumers said they would be “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to request drone delivery if their package could be delivered within an hour. What’s more, faster fulfilment times brought about by drones could result in lower shipping costs for the customers, meaning more sales and higher revenues for businesses.
Enhanced Last-Mile Connectivity
Last mile delivery is typically the most difficult part of a package’s journey and is estimated to account for up to 50% of the total distribution cost. The use of autonomous cargo drones, particularly in urban areas, could help to massively optimise the efficiency of last mile delivery. One good case study of this is the American logistics and delivery company, UPS. They propose installing mini-helipads on the top of their vans, so that drones can take on the final mile of the route. They estimate that this could save up to $50 million in costs for their 66,000 daily delivery drivers.
Lower The Environmental Impact of Delivery
On average, truck delivery of a package results in about 1 kg of greenhouse gas emissions and roughly 25% of all transportation emissions comes from trucks. Businesses could reduce their environmental impact by supplementing traditional road haulage with electric-powered drones, and this could help to dramatically reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
What are the disadvantages of delivery drones?
Before the adoption of cargo drones goes mainstream, there are still a few lingering issues that will need to be resolved. The most pressing of these are the airspace governance and legal barriers that physically restrict where drones can travel. Current legislation across the world means that many areas are off-limits to drones, making them an impractical logistics solution for the moment. Furthermore, battery life limitations mean that drones can only travel for small distances with very small loads. This is in contrast to delivery trucks which can transport hundreds of packages at a time over a long distance.