The number of drones in the United States is expected to grow tenfold over just a five-year period, illustrating the fact that they have changed from a small niche item to an exciting technology with a wide range of applications.
Forward-thinking companies are just beginning to scratch the surface of what drones can offer. Innovation in this field can even come from something as simple as partnering with an Android or iPhone app development agency to build drone-specific features into your app.
Considering that last-mile delivery represents the least efficient part of the supply chain, it’s clear that there’s a need for solutions that streamline the delivery of goods to their recipients. Drones have the potential to radically shift supply chain practices and make delivery cheaper and more efficient on all sides.
Why Are Drones So Efficient?
By removing the need for delivery trucks and employees, drones could significantly reduce the main costs associated with last-mile delivery. Aside from cutting down on labor-related expenses, drones are also substantially lighter than other delivery methods and therefore require less fuel, making them both environmentally and financially friendly.
Drones would also decrease the time necessary to move items through the supply chain, increasing customer satisfaction while decreasing the likelihood of delays, losses, or other problems. Many of the most important inefficiencies in the supply chain could therefore be addressed through the use of drone technology.
The future potential of drones is already being explored by a number of businesses, although generally only in small-scale tests. Uber, Microsoft, and Apple, for example, had projects approved earlier this year, and many small and large companies are looking to follow their lead.
While drones existed well before their application in delivery settings, large-scale implementation has been held back until recently. New features and technologies like Bluetooth integration, built-in GPS, and 4K video, along with increased affordability, have made drones a more practical tool for delivery services in the last few years.
Obstacles to Full-blown Use
On the other hand, there are a few challenges companies will face as they move to using drones in more areas of their delivery practices. Some of these, such as technology testing, will likely be worked out in the next several years, but others may be more problematic over a long period of time.
Public opinion, especially concern over safety and privacy issues, could significantly delay or hinder the large-scale rollout of drone technology. Companies will have to work hard to earn their customers’ trust, as these considerations have become much more important to consumers in recent years.
Drones are also heavily regulated in certain jurisdictions, especially the United States and China, largely because they fly in low-altitude situations. Even testing is limited in some areas, making it difficult for companies to get their projects off the ground and into the market.
While there are important concerns to be raised surrounding the possibility of widespread delivery drones, testing is already off to a promising start and many large businesses appear to be interested in the technology. We may be just a few years away from drones becoming a common part of everyday life.