Why drone deliveries won’t take off

Amazon Delivery Drone
Amazon has big plans for using drones to make deliveries (Image: IDGNS)

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22 February 2017 | 0

Niall Kitson portraitThis week UPS became the third company to trouble my inbox with news of a delivery service using drones. I still don’t get the point. If you haven’t seen how drone delivery works here’s the short version: the user lays out a marker on a flat surface outside their delivery address. A drone with their order is released and is guided by GPS to the landing address, it recognises the marker, drops its cargo on it (either by cable or landing directly) and returns to base.

If you’re in a hurry there are some benefits. In the case of Dominos and its New Zealand trial, using drones knocked about five minutes off their already tight delivery times. Amazon, too, say their Prime service can get anything to selected areas within 30 minutes. That’s impressive, but is it reall worth the effort? Are those five minutes so essential to the life of a pizza? Do I really need that True Detective Blu-ray within the length of a single episode? Relax.

Sure the delivery times are impressive but these have taken place in a controlled environment, with simple co-ordinates and a vetted customer. These are basically lab conditions where you don’t have to contend with vandals or faulty data sending your delivery into a tailspin before returning to base with payload intact – if it has the battery power to handle a prolonged sojourn.

And on that subject of data, I am drawn to the question of what system an Irish drone trial would work with. Street addresses are a good start, courier companies have their own systems, loc8 suits places that aren’t necessarily homes to begin with. Could this be where Eircode finally gets a break? Heaven forbid.

No, I think for around these parts there is no substitute for the humble postman with a bit of local knowledge and a lick of common sense. At which point I draw the reader to this really excellent story from IrishCentral.com (no relation to this fine information resource) where human empathy and nous overcomes a total lack of basic information.

I’m convinced of the value of drones in the military, surveillance, surveying and photography. But for pizza… well there’s no way to tip a drone operator. So there’s that.

One thing I will say for the UPS trial, it did have some stellar 360-degree video footage to back it up. Here it is:

 

 

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