After Google and Amazon announced their willingness to use drones for so-called „last mile” to deliver parcels, some have already announced a breakthrough in logistics. Proponents of this type of solutions even claim that in 10 years traditional delivery will be only a memory. Will the trucks and couriers become relics of the past, or will we be able to witness our own flying drones carrying things for us instead of vehicles driven by people?
Last year in England, Amazon successfully delivered the parcel to its client for the first time using a drone. Jeff Bezos (Amazon) is of the opinion that one day delivery drones will not surprise anyone. They are to deliver parcels within half an hour. Today, battery-driven drones tested by Amazon can rise to a height of over 120 m and fly at speeds up to 80 km/h. The maximum distance exceeds 20 km. They can transport goods up to 2 kg. In the United States, over 10,000 commercial drones have already been registered.
Transport experts definitely tone emotions
Specialists from the transport and logistics company AsstrA underline that although every day the possibilities of drones are bigger, for a long time drones will not have a significant impact on global logistics. The reason is quite prosaic: weights and quantities are simply too big.
The figures say it all. The American transport system, which is the largest in the world, transports almost 15 billion tons of raw materials and finished products annually. In Europe, delivery of shipments amounts to more than 2.2 billion tonne-kilometers annually. Those are massive quantities. Now the average fourth-generation drone is able to carry up to 5kg during one 10-minute flight (some loads cannot be divided into lighter than 5kg). The longest possible flight with existing drones is about 30 minutes, and the highest speed achieved is 40 km/h.
Facts and figures
It’s enough to do the math: if one drone can carry 5 kg of cargo, only in the US, 3.2 trillions of drones would be needed to carry all loads. The situation, according to specialists, will not change radically even in half a century, although the fact that drones do not replace traditional transport does not mean that they will not cooperate with it.
The possibilities of this cooperation were tested, among others, by UPS who experimented with sending the package by a drone from the van to the recipient over the last few kilometers. Amazon, on the other hand, is trying to launch a huge, flying at high altitude airship that can distribute individual drones to transport parcels to customers. People would continue to pilot the „mother ship” but the distribution of individual orders would use less energy than it does currently.
Mercedes-Benz Vision Van combines different solutions and proves that such technology is already being used today. They developed a fully electric utility vehicle with automated cargo space and integrated delivery drones. For example, if a parcel supplier stops his car in a residential area, delivery of parcels can take place not only personally but also autonomously, by air. Work efficiency in the last phase of delivery is expected to increase by as much as 50 percent.