Drones are among the technologies whose growth is expected to change the way the world does its business, especially in package delivery. However, it is still in its infancy stages, especially when it comes to civilian applications. While the world’s leading militaries have achieved considerable progress in UAV technology, the civilian industry is yet to make sufficient progress for use in postal deliveries. That’s partly due to regulation set by aviation authorities.
The restrictions have meant the market for drone delivery is still limited. The other major factor that is still limiting drone technology is the availability of lightweight battery bank. Hopefully, the development of lightweight batteries with a high power density is going to allow an increase in speed, range, and weight capacity of the drones. Most importantly, the overall cost of acquiring drones will come down.
Russia is among the few countries where the government is actively involved in the development of Postal Delivery Drones. Unfortunately, things aren’t going as one would expect from a project where the government has shown some interest. Interestingly, the Russian Post whose officials present in the Postal Delivery Drones experiment that failed miserably claimed it wasn’t part of the experiment.
It pointed out that the officials were there just as guests, and that Rudron, the same company that also organized the experiment that backfired, made the drone. For a country that has been accused of using Cyber technology to interfere with elections of other countries, the crash was definitely a humble pie. The experiment was done after the Russian Post announced in 2016 that it was going to start parcel delivery services using drones.
From what happened during the failed drone test, it is clear that there is a lot that still needs to be done before the futuristic drone delivery services can become commercially viable. The head of Russian Post in the Buryatia region Alexei Tsydenov who witnessed the crash said the spectacular crash could have been caused by interference from Wi-Fi networks.
He continued to say that the area has about 100 Wi-Fi connections that could have jammed the drone’s wireless control systems. However, he said that the failure is not going to deter them from pursuing the project to its full completion. He added that those who fail and quit, never get to achieve results.
In the US, the research in Postal Drone Delivery is receiving huge support from private companies as well as the government. Even though the Federal Aviation Administration banned the use of drones to make deliveries in 2014, they later made an exemption for lightweight drones to make deliveries as long as authorized persons who are over the age of 16 fly them. The exemption came when in 2017, Barrack Obama made a presidential directive asking the Transportation Departments and the FAA to work together in creating an avenue for Postal Drone Delivery.
Amazon is the leading supporter of drone delivery and has successfully done drone delivery tests in the UK, the first of which was done in 2016. Moreover, Amazon was awarded a patent in March 2018 for drone technology that allows drones to respond to human gestures and modify their flying behavior accordingly.
Amazon also applied for patents covering projects such as a giant airborne warehouse where drones could pick supplies, and another that allows the drone to self-destruct in case of an emergency. We only hope that it’s not the kind of self-destruction that was witnessed with Russia’s Postal Delivery drone.
Apart from commercial drone delivery tests, the use of drone delivery has experienced some success in the use of drone to deliver medical supplies to remote locations. The US has been able to create drones capable of delivering 20 pounds of medical supplies to injured troops in combat zones. Countries that have made significantly steps in delivery of medical supplies using drones are Switzerland, Rwanda, and of course the US.
The use email meant that there wasn’t a need to speed up the snail mail as e-commerce experienced double digit growth in the past few decade. However, the need to make physical deliveries thanks to the growth of ecommerce stores such as Amazon is now forcing postal delivery companies to seek faster means to deliver packages in order to stay competitive.
Overall, a breakthrough in the Postal drone delivery will allow for a faster and more efficiently delivery of parcels.