Did you know that the United States has more than 1 million registered drones? This is what data published by the US Department of Transportation has revealed. While a large number of these drones are being used by residents for fun, a significant number is being tested by companies like Amazon, Google, UPS and DHL to explore ways for drones to become an alternative for trucks to deliver packages. However, there are hurdles that need to be overcome to allow the safe testing and integration of drone technology in the US airspace. And, once achieved, the benefits can be huge.
Drones are electric powered. They reduce the need for fleets of vehicles to navigate traffic to deliver packages. This will become a major contributor to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, while helping courier dispatch companies save significantly on fuel and maintenance costs for their fleets, says an expert at Key Software Systems.
COMMERCIAL USE OF DRONES
Talking of Amazon, the fact that the US e-commerce giant has been testing customer drone deliveries in the UK since 2016 hasn’t been hidden from anyone. The multi-billion-dollar company made a record by delivering its first ever Amazon Prime package by air in Cambridgeshire. The time duration between ordering the package and its delivery was a mere 13 seconds, according to an article published by Standard.
Drones are completely automated. They are able monitor themselves, while determining what is safe and which route to take. In case they sense any problem, they are programmed to execute safe contingency actions, much before a human can react. This will prove to be a major advantage, allowing drones to make quicker deliveries, in just minutes after a customer has placed an order.
DRONES OVERCOME BARRIERS
Since the Amazon trial, certain barriers have come to the fore, such as control traffic rules, which restrict the widespread use of drones by the courier industry. Earlier, these conventional aircraft were required to be within the sight of their human operators, which restricted the area that drone deliveries could cover. However, the National Air Traffic Control Service (NATS) has now allowed out-of-sight drone operations, as announced by NATS head Andy Sage to The Times. Moreover, no fly rules prevented drones approaching within 150 metres of buildings that were densely packed.
In 2019, don’t be surprised if you see these unmanned aircraft flying alongside manned ones. The tracking technology in drones is expected to soon be integrated with the air traffic control systems.