Are Drones the Solution to Last-Mile Delivery Concerns?

Drones have moved far beyond being thought of as toy gifts or military surveillance tools. They are now making waves in e-commerce, where they are showing a lot of promise when it comes to last-mile delivery.

The recent patent filed by Amazon for a hive of flying drones shows that we’re only likely to see more and not less of these unmanned aerial vehicles flying overhead. They could end up solving the last-mile issues plaguing e-commerce. As people continue to turn to online shopping, the supply chain has to keep up. The current model of sending goods in pallets and batches is starting to give way to a more single-piece-oriented approach.

New Solutions Needed to Meet E-commerce Growth

In the first quarter of this year, e-commerce made up just 8.5 percent of retail sales, but this is expected to rise quickly, as is the overall level of retail sales. This means the American supply chain will need to adapt to the customized needs of individual shoppers without paying the price in the form of decreased efficiency.

Robotics and automation can help meet this demand. The scattered nature of residences in many parts of the country makes last-mile delivery in the U.S. a very different beast from sending packages to clustered European villages. There simply aren’t enough people to get everyone their goods when they want them, and this is where a drone could make all the difference.

In order to get the most out of using drones for this purpose, they will need to be self-flying in the case of air drones and self-driving in the case of ground-based delivery drones. Some varieties may even handle both tasks.

As the cost of the technology goes down and the technology improves, drones will likely use radar and lidar together to help people get their goods. Industrial zones may also come to the fore, taking on tasks like repairing remote infrastructure and responding to natural disasters.

Once regulatory hurdles are cleared and privacy and safety concerns are addressed, drones could bring tremendous value to society.

This blog post was based off of an article from LinkedIn. View the original here.

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