The Age of the Jetsons Has Arrived: Delivery Drones

Posted by Flux on 

1 April 2014


What’s trending now?

Delivery of goods and services is a timeless challenge.  Once you harvest the crops, you’ve got to get them to market.  Or, more pertinently for consumers, you want your online order delivered now.  Humans have always looked for ways to make delivery more efficient; consider the development of postal codes, and automated ticking machines if you need examples.

But now, the world is finally entering the world of the Jetsons; delivery is truly becoming the work of robots.  Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), better known as drones are mini-flying aircraft that are capable of delivering products ASAP, without the need for much human intervention.

Why it’s important

Although the South African postal service presents specific challenges, leading to a wealth of courier companies and private drivers to deliver important documents, it is not the only country desiring more efficient delivery services.

Americans, largely cited as the planet’s largest consumer population, have become accustomed to online ordering; coupled with prolific internet availability, companies like Amazon were always destined to succeed.  But, with the advancement of downloadable media, consumers are demanding the delivery of physical goods almost as quickly.

Amazon has stepped to the challenge in the development of Amazon Prime Air. Through the use of unmanned flying drones, the innovative company has developed a delivery system that will see packages arriving at their destination within 30 minutes of ordering.  That’s if you like within a 10 mile (16 km) radius of their dispatch centres.  Amazon is only waiting for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to release rules and regulations regarding drone usage, which could happen as soon as 2015.

Colleges and universities across the United States, such as Kent State University in Ohio, are already developing degrees and training students to operate unmanned aircraft.  This suggests that not only will the FAA enable Amazon to operate its new delivery service, but that other companies will soon follow suit.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will certainly be keen to hire these students if the FAA imposes regulations too strict for American companies as they are rolling out government services using unmanned aircraft later this year.  These drones will be responsible for delivering government documents and identity cards in an effort to upgrade government services.

What’s the butterfly effect?

On the plus side, the introduction of drones means a reduction in waiting times.  That is always positive for any impatient society.    There is also an idea lurking behind the consumerism of Amazon that allows for better care of vulnerable populations as the UAE initiative suggests.

The higher education of drone operators relates to increased specialised employment, which, at face value can be seen as an additional benefit.  However, delivery services have traditionally been regarded as blue collar employment, a job which requires little more than a driver’s license.  Drones have the potential to limit the number of jobs available to workers with only basic schooling.

The Pioneers

Amazon is clearly a pioneer of the latest drone technology, as are the educational institutions that hope to support the company’s endeavours.  Of course, there are other companies in the US which are keen to take advantage of this trend, such as Lakemaid.  This micro-brewery used drones to deliver cases of beer to ice fishermen holed up in shacks for the season; however, the FAA closed their operation.

The Global Hotspots

The United States is leading this trend as it was bound to do, given its strong consumer marketplace, not to mention the sheer number of people within its vast territory.  However, the UAE looks set to win the drone race, especially as their rollout is government driven and their timeline reveals imminent implementation.

By: Katie Schenk

About Katie

KGB - Eastside

Katie is South African by choice, but she’s proud of being American too. She’s a writer, a producer, and a momma. If she can shut off – she sleeps. Her interests include advertising, home economics, entrepreneurial processes, South African idiosyncrasies, and rugby. (Really). She’s also a fan of Tudor history – but there’s nothing trendy (or trending) in that.

Click here to read more on the drone delivery trend.

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