Drone Delivery Guide – Should You Consider Opening a Drone Delivery Company?

The modern-day delivery market demands a drone delivery guide for it believes that drone deliveries are the future. The concept of unmanned aerial vehicles has been around for some time with the earliest iteration being used in Venice by Austrian forces in 1849

Though the earliest attempt at drones wasn’t anything to ride home about, the latest drones are capable of flying as fast as cars and going farther than ever before. This makes many people wonder if drone deliveries are a viable alternative to traditional deliveries. 

While drone delivery has already caught some wind, it is still unclear what the future holds for the field. Since this looks like quite a lucrative opportunity, many businesses have been looking for a drone delivery guide.

Why are Drone Deliveries Significant? 

Drones entirely avoid the obstacles and challenges faced by traditional delivery methods as it operates in a different environment. Since a drone operates in the sky, it does not have to deal with issues such as traffic congestion and getting stranded.

It is no wonder that people look up to the concept when a company like Zipline takes over the delivery of more than half of all blood samples in Rwanda thanks to drones. This is no small feat as drones have only recently been used for civilian applications.

If drone deliveries were to become the norm then the need for dedicated drivers and packers would vanish. This means that companies have an opportunity to greatly cut down on costs. The technology to do this has been around for a while though there is a reason why delivery drivers are still around.

In order to work around the drawbacks of drone technology many drone delivery companies such as amazon prime air have started to ramp up research and development of their drones.

Pros and Cons of Drone Delivery Services

While many businesses would like to jump the gun and invest in drone delivery systems, it is much better to first realize the advantages and disadvantages. This field much like any other field has its own dark side and it is one that people need to know and learn about.

Pros and Cons of Drone Delivery Services

Pros

If delivery drones didn’t have any advantages over traditional delivery systems, then they would be kicked to the curb. However, this is not the case as drones offer some legitimate edges over traditional methods of delivery.

1. Contact-free delivery

Contactless deliveries were all the rage during the pandemic where social distancing and quarantines were enforced. In this scenario, a drone could very literally be a lifesaver for those stuck at home and those that deliver packages. 

A drone can bypass all contact occurrences when in transit so that only the receiver and sender are the ones that interact with the package ensuring safety for both parties. Drones can also be easily sanitized and reused almost instantly. This is why you see such high usage of drones in medical deliveries. 

2. Avoids common obstacles

A drone doesn’t get stuck in traffic! Isn’t that terrific? That alone is reason enough for many people to want to abandon traditional delivery methods. Since drone operations are conducted exclusively in the air they don’t have to deal with most obstacles faced during deliveries.

Obstacles such as bad roads can also lead to goods being damaged during transit. A drone can single handedly deal with most logistical issues that land vehicles have to deal with.  This makes them both faster and more reliable at the same time.

3. Works better in remote areas

Drones working in rural areas might sound counter-intuitive, but it is actually where using drones makes the most sense. Because of the amount of open land in such areas, it is very easy for a drone to find potential landing sites unlike in cities where it is very tricky to find a spot to land on.

Rural areas are some of the most expensive places for a delivery company to operate in. A typical van might have to deal with bad roads and long routes while a drone can simply fly over them directly to the destination without crashing thanks to features such as collision avoidance. 

Since Rural communities are relatively detached from common infrastructures such as hospitals or supermarkets, they can really take advantage of drone deliveries. They can also call on drones in case of an emergency where traditional help would take hours to arrive. 

4. Zero carbon emissions

A big proponent of drone delivery is the fact that it creates zero emissions while in operation. While this is indeed good news for deliveries to remote locations, it might not be the case for other sorts of deliveries.

This is still great news when you consider that almost all other logistical vehicles are gas operated. In this scenario, having an electric drone can cut down on emissions by a considerable amount.

Cons

No product can be without flaws, and drones come with their own set of flaws which can be deal breakers for anyone looking to start a drone delivery business. These drawbacks are mainly caused by the nature of drones by design.

1. People find drones unsettling  

You know that a business isn’t worth investing in if people find your product off putting or scary unless you’re selling horror stories of course. Most people don’t like the sound of drones flying overhead as it makes them anxious and very aware of the drone’s presence. 

Anything with a propeller is going to be inherently loud as the tips of these propellers cause massive disturbance to the air creating that droning sound. While there are ways to mitigate the noise caused by propellers they severely affect the drone’s performance and efficiency. 

While drones crashing out of the sky isn’t a common occurrence, it is still enough for people to not feel safe around drones. There have also been cases of drone crashes resulting in massive wildfires. Such an accident can not only cause huge liabilities to fall on you but also might cause grave injuries. 

2. High charging times

Deploying a drone is as instant as it gets however charging a drone is one of the biggest deal breakers for anyone looking to conduct drone deliveries. Traditional delivery modes can be refueled in mere seconds though charging a drone takes hours/ 

With batteries, it is always a trade between faster charging times or greater battery life. In order to curb this issue, the use of multiple batteries is suggested, though this can not only increase costs but also take a toll on the drone’s motors if operated continuously.

3. High cost of operation 

Drones are in no way cost-effective. Sure consumer drones might be cheap enough for an individual to purchase, but commercial drones are far more expensive as they need bigger batteries and stronger motors.

You will also have to hire human pilots in order to complete deliveries should anything go wrong with the drone’s navigation. These drone operators need their own set of licenses to operate the drone and thus will cost a lot more to hire when compared to regular delivery drivers. 

Pair the cost of pilots with the cost of automatic drones and their docking stations to see the true cost of running a commercial drone delivery service. This is one reason why many delivery companies refrain from conducting drone delivery operations.

4. Reliability concerns 

Despite a drone’s ability to detect obstacles, concerns have been raised regarding the reliability at which it can avoid obstacles. Since drones have not been successfully tested on a large scale, they still leave room for doubt. 

We are a long way from having autonomous drones. Most drones that you see are either automatic drones that follow a predetermined flight path or manual drones operated with remote control within the visual line of sight. 

Much like any other aircraft, drones can also cause a lot of damage if they were to fly into a bunch of power lines. Drone companies try their best to collect more drone data to study and refine drones to be better at package delivery.

Alternative Solutions to Drone Delivery 

With Regular drones having their set of drawbacks, people would obviously look for alternatives though in the case of drones there aren’t many new alternatives. The alternatives are in some aspects superior to drones and have existed for longer than drones. 

1. Hydrogen fuel drones

A UAV does not have to be run by batteries. They can also use traditional fuels such as Diesel or Avgas and some newer power sources such as hydrogen. These alternative fuels allow for more drone delivery work to be done as they provide both extra range and payload capacity. 

Hydrogen fuel drones are already getting some traction in the drone market despite only a handful of companies manufacturing hydrogen fuel cell drones. Other drones powered by diesel fuel are also on the horizon as it pollutes less than Avgas.

2. Optimized traditional transportation 

Drone delivery isn’t really necessary if you could make the current delivery process faster. Current delivery vehicles are the best at reducing costs and conducting more deliveries at once. This is why despite prime air service being developed amazon still invests in making their current delivery system optimized.

Any drone delivery operation is more expensive when compared to current delivery processes. Though with optimization even the price of current systems can be brought down. Businesses understand this and thus choose to go with the traditional forms of cargo delivery over drones. 

In order to optimize any delivery operation a company needs the right optimization software that can accommodate its needs and expectations. Whether you are delivering medical supplies or food, your delivery van needs optimized routes. 

Perform Unlimited Multi-stop Deliveries Using Upper

Having your packages delivered faster while cutting down on costs is what some would call a dream, however, this dream has been brought to life by Upper! With the help of Upper, you will be able to create the most optimized routes within minutes with just one click.

With the most optimized routes in your possession, you have the power to accommodate more deliveries on the same day! This means that you can save time and make more money all thanks to the wonderful route-planning abilities of Upper!

Uncertainty is a fear of the past when you have Upper to schedule stops in advance so that you can be stress-free. Our clients have saved hours worth of planning and worrying by simply using Upper to make their route-planning process easier than making a sandwich.

Level Up Your Delivery Process with Upper

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FAQs

You can start a drone delivery service by simply following these 5 steps.

  1. Understand the local market
  2. Get the relevant licenses and permits to operate your drone
  3. Invest in drones that can work automatically and carry big packages
  4. Create a docking station for your drones to make more deliveries.
  5. Market your business to potential customers.

The average speed of delivery drones is 30-50 mph. The average drone speed varies depending on the model. Drones such as the amazon prime air drones can fly fast at 50mph.

Delivery drones are usually limited to operating within a 10-mile radius. This is why they can only serve the areas near fulfillment centers.

Future Prospects for Drone Deliveries 

A drone delivery system might sound like the perfect business model until you dive deeper into all the drawbacks. Any drone company would very gladly sell you a drone but it is up to you to make it a profitable venture. 

Any drone company in the drone industry would prefer to sell small drones as drone laws are easier on them. When they step into the business of air carriers they are going to face the same regulatory hurdles as manned aircraft. 

Most issues that arise in this industry are because of the way that drones work and the federal government regulating drones. Unless drones that fly autonomously become the norm the future for drone delivery operations doesn’t look too bright. 

What does look bright is the future of companies that rely on Upper to optimize their package delivery routes. This is because using Upper is a surefire way to get the most out of your delivery rounds.

Author Bio
Rakesh Patel
Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel is the founder and CEO of Upper Route Planner. A subject matter expert in building simple solutions for day-to-day problems, Rakesh has been involved in technology for 30+ years. Looking to help delivery businesses eliminate on-field delivery challenges, Rakesh started Upper Route Planner with the ultimate goal of simplistic operations in mind.

https://www.upperinc.com/guides/drone-delivery/