The Advent of Drone Deliveries

As priorities keep changing, time constraints are hurdles that require artistic solutions. Ever since e-commerce emerged in the markets, its demands soared and online purchases became the most ideal choice as they didn’t require any physical energy be spent. Without doubt, delivery is one of the most important aspects of online purchases. Initially online purchases took weeks to deliver, later with the advent of Amazon Prime, it could be delivered within 24 hours. In more recent times, as people live a more hard-pressed lives, they expect to be instantly gratified with respect to everything. With Amazon Prime Now, select items like groceries can be delivered within 2 hours of placing the order. Needless to say, humans are less efficient for this job and a technological auxiliary is in demand.

These retail shifts are vital in the transformation of the ever-dynamic retail sector. The most successful retailers are the ones that deliver quickest in economical ways. Amongst the several alternate solutions considered, one really catches your eye– drone deliveries. Amazon made its first successful drone delivery in the year 2016. The package was delivered in Cambridge 13 minutes after it was ordered. It was a part of testing the Amazon Air service. While Amazon is not the only retail chain that has considered drone deliveries, the safety of these drones has been under constant scrutiny in the recent past.

The American supermarket chain Kroger recently tested its automated, self-driving R1 delivery drone. Kroger partnered with a startup Nuro, who’s R1 was a modified production car equipped with autonomous driving software. The R1 is to use public roads to deliver the goods. The customers are to simply access the compartments of the vehicle through a smartphone application to grab their order. The electric self-driving vehicle has proved advantageous in its test stages and is now used in Scottsdale to transport local deliveries. Kroger seems to have been fortunate to make a swift move from the trial stage to standard implementation.

Other retail chains have faced more resistance with respect to the same. Google, DHL, Amazon are all trialling drone deliveries, starting from calculating where to drop packages to preventing the systems from being hacked, this airborne delivery fad does not have the smoothest transition proposal. Granted the drones have surpassed the flying stage, being able to fly in all weathers except during storms, another practical challenge is air-traffic control. Some of the accepted solutions are backed by NASA’s project with Verizon to manage drones in-flight from cellular towers. The biggest questions that even the first world countries are battling is with the ‘dropping’ stage of the delivery.

At the moment, in most developed countries, deliveries are left unattended on the doorstep or the front yard. Can drones replicate the same luxuries for its consumers? Some address these issues by creating special landing zones. For instance, Amazon has filed a patent to be able to use street lamps as delivery stations. DHL on the other hand wants to drop the packages at a ‘smart locker’ that sends the customer a code to unlock. These smart lockers are considered less advantageous as they will not offer services at your doorstep and does involve certain amount of physical effort from the customer. Nevertheless, they prove to be useful if built on top of apartment buildings which are very common in cities.

The second biggest challenge is keeping it legal. It is not possible to want to fly an unmanned drone without regulatory approval. Acquiring these approvals can be arduous processes in some countries as compared to others. UK has been in favour of these forward-thinking drone deliveries and encourages its development by allowing trials.

India’s ambitious restaurant search and discovery service company Zomato is trying to enter a field that is still being trod upon by larger countries with more resources. Zomato has doubled its sales by entering into the food delivery industry in the last year and is striving to expand into the market using drones for its delivery. Zomato hopes to expand its delivery capacities for its 75000 restaurant partners across 100 cities in India. Although, subsuming this cutting-edge innovation into our lifestyles will be exorbitant in terms of the number of job cuts. India may not be ready to imbibe these innovations owing to its large unpredictable population. But, with the nation’s new drone policy, companies like Zomato are willingly venturing into the likely use of drones in our everyday lives in the next three to five years.

As we are transitioning into the world of technology, are we losing sight of what is indispensable?

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