All the e-commerce giants are in the race to launch their drone delivery service.
Indeed, drone delivery costs only a few dollars. One company even advances the figure of 15 cents per delivery!
No driver, no traffic jams, the dream of the e-commerce giants!
According to some studies, this mode of parcel transport could generate 82 billion dollars and create 100,000 jobs!
In 2013, Jeff Bezos, Amazon‘s boss, launched the “Prime Air” project and promised pizza delivery by drone in less than 30 minutes. 7 years later, even if it is technically possible, still no piss delivered by drone. Amazon has created its delivery drone “Parcelcopter” which is a miniature aircraft, able to fly at 90 km/h, delivering parcels weighing less than 2.7 kilos within a radius of 16 kilometres.
The competition is not to be outdone like PriceMinister, which delivers sandwiches or equipment to golfers by drone or DHL, which has just carried out promising tests in the Bavarian Alps by supplying equipment to a ski resort in sometimes difficult weather conditions.
The Chinese company Ehang, for its part, is banking on the automated transport of organs thanks to an improved version of its Ehang 184, an autonomous drone capable of transporting a passenger at a flight speed of 105 km/h.
As for Alibaba, the company is experimenting with “remote-controlled helicopters”.
Domino’s Pizza’s “DomiCopter” project currently looks more like a publicity stunt than a real project and is trying to carry out some tests in England.
What about the American tex-mex company TacoCopter, which had launched a similar concept, promising its customers to deliver Mexican specialities by air. A total flop! Google and its Project Wing, for its part, are able to deliver parcels very precisely door-to-door, unlike the DHL drone which only delivers to a parcel relay. Project Wing has a very advanced onboard navigation system that allows it to find its way around autonomously in its environment. Google‘s Project Wing uses a cable to deliver its packages smoothly once it has reached its destination; once the package is delivered, the cable retracts and the drone leaves.
In France, the post office has had an initial success in the Var region and has inaugurated a parcel delivery line in the Isère region using drones that can travel between 15 and 30 km. It can deliver in difficult, impassable areas and makes a round trip in 8 minutes compared to 30 minutes by road.
In short, broken promises and big flops but progress despite the legislative brakes!
For the moment, legislation prevents UAVs from flying over urban areas for safety reasons.
In the United States, the flight of commercial UAVs remains limited: “flight out of sight” is not allowed, the devices must remain within the visual field of a pilot. Amazon is forcing to obtain the creation of air corridors, and the authorization to fly out of sight.
In France, rules exist, but they are very restrictive, the out of sight being also forbidden, except over unpopulated areas.
The European Parliament is working on a reform of the regulation of drones.
And how to avoid collisions?
Google is developing a system that can detect and avoid obstacles. Amazon has equipped its drones with sensors and “avoidance technology”. But what about moving obstacles (ULM, birds)? It is difficult not to ask questions when even autonomous cars are wrong.
And finally, what about the failure if drones could fly over populated areas?
To sum up, the regulatory framework is evolving but the generalization of delivery drones is not for tomorrow, even if they have a certain future in the medium term.
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