Delivery drones are coming, but are the Americas ready?
Saeed Mumtaz, Director of Research and Consultancy at Triangle Management Services, considers whether drones are on the horizon for the delivery industry. Less than half of US citizens said they were interested in having a drone deliver the items they order online according to new research.
Despite the rapid proliferation of online shopping in the US, and the emerging market in Latin America, a recent study of consumer attitudes towards drone delivery found that Americans were not all that interested in delivery by drone.
The survey* found that only 47% would be interested in such a delivery mechanism with the researchers citing privacy, safety and regulations as reasons why Americans aren’t quite ready to embrace the technology yet.
But the technology is hardly the stuff of science fiction, it’s already here with industry giants such as Amazon, UPS, DHL and even Google all experimenting with drones. In fact, Amazon delivered its first package via drone in the UK as recently as December and UPS started testing the use of drones in deliveries to remote areas back in September.
It’s easy to see why the mail and express sectors are showing such an interest in drone and robotic delivery. Drones have the potential to significantly cut delivery times and costs. With venture capitalists practically falling over themselves to pour money into drone start-ups, and the likes of Amazon stacking up delivery drone patents in droves, it’s no wonder we’re seeing such an explosion of coverage and attention.
But the truth remains that while the technology progresses quickly, consumer attitudes, infrastructure and even government policy sometimes take a little longer to catch up.
But despite the US Government and the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) having been more cautious than their UK counterparts, it seems that the momentum for change will soon see the steady introduction of drone and robotic delivery technology in the Americas and across the globe.
Just this week, The US Department of Transportation published the final version of its 240-page “Beyond Traffic 2045” document. Within, current US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx explained:
“Now is an exciting time to have this discussion. Our transportation system is on the cusp of a major transformation, akin to the introduction of the steam engine or the automobile. New technologies and business models—automated vehicles, electric cars, unmanned aerial systems, NextGen air-traffic operations, and mobility on demand, to name just a few—promise to dramatically improve the safety, efficiency, competitiveness, accessibility, and sustainability of our transportation system.”
Of course, we’re not suggesting that drone delivery will become the dominant force in delivery overnight, but it certainly seems likely that it will become an increasingly important part of the mix in the years ahead.
And as for consumer attitudes, when you consider the very same survey* we referenced earlier found low pricing and fast delivery were key drivers in consumer choice when it comes to delivery provider, the introduction of autonomous and drone delivery seems inevitable, whether they’re ready or not.
DHL, USPS and Starship Technologies will be speaking at the World Mail & Express Americas Conference in February. If you would like to learn more about the applications of drone technology and the future of delivery book your place via the conference website today or call the events team on +44 (0)1628 642910.
About Saeed Mumtaz
Saeed is the Director of Research and Consultancy at Triangle Management Services. Triangle’s specialist research team draws together decades of industry experience from across the postal, express and logistics industry. Latest Triangle research includes the UK International Mail and Parcels Services Digest, the UK Express Carriers Digest and the UK Pallet Networks Digest. Other ad-hoc reports include ‘Cross Border eCommerce – Improving the Consumer Journey’ and ‘European Parcels Networks’.
* Source: ReportLinker