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The value of drone delivery services appears to have been realised now that the world’s population centres are in lockdown, with Alphabet’s (Google’s) drone deliveries doubling in test areas in the U.S. and Australia.
What Drone Delivery Service?
Alphabet Inc.’s Wing service offers parcel delivery by special drone aircraft. In the U.S. the service was approved by the federal government last October but is being operated in a limited test area around Christiansburg, Virginia. It is operating using partnerships with FedEx Corp., the Walgreens store chain (for medicine, toilet roll and similar deliveries), and with a local bakery and a coffee shop. Wing is also working as part of an approved program with Virginia Tech.
Alphabet’s Wing also has a drone delivery service in the Vuosaari district of Helsinki in Finland and in Canberra, Australia where it delivers goods from a variety of vendors including Mitchell Supermarket, Krofne Donuts and even Drummond Golf (golf balls, tees and gloves).
It is the drone deliveries in the Christiansburg, Virginia area of the U.S. and in Canberra, Australia that are reported to have doubled their deliveries in response to demand from customers who are staying at home.
Other Drone Delivery Services
Wing is, of course, not the only drone delivery service. Amazon’s Prime Air delivery service, which made test deliveries as far back as 2016 and 2017 still exists but is described by Amazon as “a future delivery system” which has “great potential”, but does seem to have gone somewhat quiet since the much-publicised tests.
In The UK
Drone services are already in operation in the UK, offering a variety of services and performing a number of duties. In addition to drones used in the promotions and film industries, UK agencies also use drones. For example, back in 2017, Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service and multi-agency partners (Fire and Rescue, Constabulary, County Council and others) launched a shared drone service to provide a range of aerial surveillance options in support of emergency services and voluntary organisations.
Drones In The Pandemic and Beyond
Reports of other uses of drones in the pandemic and beyond include:
– Reports from Jerusalem that Israeli police have been using drones outside apartment buildings to check whether people who have been ordered to self-isolate are doing so.
– Spanish police and the French police using drones with speakers around public places to warn people to go home.
– The University of South Australia (UniSA) and Canada-based drone technology specialist ‘Draganfly’ teaming up to create a drone that can use sensors and computer vision to spot people with infectious respiratory diseases.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
Clearly, drone delivery options are still a long way off for most of us, but the pandemic has highlighted more elements of value in them that are being applied in the test areas for local shop deliveries during the pandemic, and for use in disease control on the post-pandemic modern world that we now find ourselves entering. Drones have also been used for medical purposes (live organ delivery) and could prove valuable again for moving medical and other help into closed-off areas where there is disease in future.
For now, and in the near future, we are still waiting for the tech giants in conjunction with business partners to expand the scale and scope of drone delivery so that it can begin to add value and provide a competitive edge for all kinds of businesses and organisations.