Logistics drones: invasive or innovative?

Katie Smith, October 24, 2017

Garden Voyeurism

Last weekend whilst enjoying some relaxed autumn gardening I was startled by a strange buzzing sound from on high. I looked up expecting an obnoxious insect but instead spotted a drone hovering above my back garden. This was the first time I had been visited by a drone and I wasn’t sure what to make of it, so I waved. The drone, seemingly appeased by this, scooted away, but it got me thinking… Realistically, what useful purposes do drones actually serve?

Fad or forward-thinking?

Aside from the military (and hobbyist back garden surveillance), the most concentrated area of practical drone usage appears to come from the logistics industry where drones have been adopted for various applications, most commonly package delivery services. The courier industry has no doubt noted the customer’s ever increasing need for speed; are drones just a novelty or do they hold the key to a faster delivery service and consequent courier business success?

Slow and steady does not win the race…

Amazon carried out a drone delivery trial in 2016 as part of its new ‘Prime Air’ service, which would send small packages by drone in less than 30 minutes from the point of order, as reported by The Guardian.  Amazon have since followed up in 2017 by patenting various ultra-modern drone stations or hub designs; ranging from those resembling sci-fi beehives to ultra-futuristic blimps playing host to hundreds of drones - it would therefore seem that high-speed delivery drones are here to stay.

Flying Pizzas

Other innovative companies have followed suit with Google’s ‘Project Wing’ focusing on drone deliveries amongst other flying fancies. Even Dominos is jumping on the band wagon by delivering a pizza to a New Zealand customer’s front door via drone ‘delivery partner Flirtey’, as described by Business Insider UK. Savvy logistics and courier moguls will be observing that now seems to be the time for investment in delivery drone technology.

Eye in the sky

Aside from physically taking packages from one site to another, cameras mounted on drones have recently been utilised to scrutinise driver standards and behaviour from the sky. The BBC reports that ‘Road police in France have been testing them out in Bordeaux’. Dangerous drivers are tracked from the sky and stopped by intercepting police motorcycles. ‘Officers say they are stopping 15-20 Lorries an hour’ – a troubling statistic for logistics companies making deliveries by road.

An Orwellian future?

With success rates like these it seems a strong possibility that ‘drone policing’ may be rolled out internationally. If this is the case, lorry Drivers will need to adhere not only to tachographs and similar driver monitoring systems, but they may also be watched from the skies. Who knows, perhaps some logistics firms will even start their own in-house drone observations to monitor staff (legalities permitting)? Some businesses will view use of drones as progress; others will see a dystopian future for the courier, transport and logistics industries.  

Written by Katie Smith - Executive Assistant at Alchemy Recruitment Ltd

Posted in categories: International, Shipping
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