Future of Delivery is Here!
12th Sep 2019
With the advent of eCommerce, the biggest boost besides the online platforms came to logistics companies. Many companies including existing giants like FedEx or disruptive hyper-local startups are flourishing and exponentially growing to meet the unquenching demands of the Amazons of the world.
But there is a bottleneck to this model of business, which is the last-mile delivery. Factors such as distance, heavy reliability on man-power, traffic congestions, and weather, many a time the delivery takes up to a week. Hence limiting the scope and penetration of eCommerce sellers.
The answer to this challenge and the future of hyper-local delivery is – Drones. Unmanned, remotely controlled, smart aerial vehicles.
Many technology companies, eCommerce giants and technology start-ups have successfully developed prototypes of these delivery drones. We are one of them. Few models have survived the beta test runs as well. You may receive your online order through an unmanned flying drone sooner than you think. One of the leading aerospace giant Bell Helicopters has invested heavily to develop this robotic version of “Bell Boy” (pun intended).
Last Few Challenges
The existing models of drones can easily carry and deliver goods weighing up to 4.5 pounds to places almost 13 miles away. But these are non-scalable yet and are yet to cross a few challenges on their way to reach the critical mass to make this technology profitable.
The existing infrastructure of 4G infrastructure for wireless communication is enough to meet the requirements of consumers, drones require a much faster and more seamless way to communicate with the controller. The upcoming, incredibly fast 5G infrastructure is the solution for this challenge. With 5G almost ready to be deployed (with successful test runs) in many places across the US, drones have found their soul mate in true sense.
Battery (Power vs weight)
The next biggest challenge not just to the drone but to any e-powered systems across markets is power supply and storage. While solar panels do fight the challenge of power supply in case of drones but what will happen to a drone on a rainy day in New Orleans or Florida is the biggest question.
We need a more powered battery which is a lot less light than the existing ones to make delivery drones a robust and dependable option. The world-renowned electric car makers Tesla and a few disruptive states like QuantumSpace are pushing the boundaries of battery power v/s weight ratio. It is just the question of a few months or years before they can find a breakthrough and address this challenge making drones our hyper delivery boys.
Next two challenges pertain to security. A question and challenge that must be faced by every disruptive innovation. Although fingerprints or facial identification will counter this to a lot of extents some people can use this system for their greed and benefits. That said, newer ideas a countermeasure are being developed every day and this persistent problem has a simple solution, - continual security enhancements.
Being unmanned, drones in many areas are under threat themselves, and using a drone in many remote locations is a potential threat to drones themselves. They can be easily stolen! This is more of an ethical challenge. Here is no answer to this but to improve the build quality and build some inner countermeasure to tackle such an incident.
Flight Path Intervention
Most of the challenges mentioned above are being tackled by our AI team. We are currently working on a python-based intelligent algorithm to enable the drone to detect the path of any other drones in the vicinity and to make adjustments to our drone’s flight path accordingly.
Drones in Agriculture
Drones used in agriculture for crop dusting or top dressing or simple survey pose a different challenge. Since they are the only UAVs in large hectors of pastures, we need not worry about crossing flight paths.
But the payload they carry will be more and also unexpected and unpredictable movement of birds and other obstacles pose a huge challenge to be countered.
Acceptance of Drones
Contrary to popular belief, drones do not take away the employment of unskilled labor. Increased acceptance of drone will generate employment in new and unexpected sectors. AI and machine learning are already poised to be one of the largest employment sectors by 2025. With the improved reach ensures that packages, medicines, food and potable water can reach people on time, especially to disaster-prone areas. Also, improved and uninterrupted surveillance will make our neighborhoods a better and safer place to live.
We at Halcyon are ideating a proof of concept for a delivery drone. It should be capable of delivering payloads up to 11 pounds and a distance of 1 mile.
This will be very useful to ensure that emergency supplies like medicines and food can be delivered without human intervention irrespective of the hour in the day.
The model we have planning is designed in such a way that as and when new or better improvements or innovations come along we can leverage it easily. The model will be scalable, adaptable and upgradable to accommodate latest updates.
Drones are here to stay, much like the smartphone revolution which happened a decade ago, let us use them for the benefit of humanity.
Come, let’s talk drones!