Drone package delivery still in its infancy
Drones are becoming increasingly important. As a result, no one doubts that drones are the future. Currently, they are widely used for inspections in hard-to-reach places such as wind turbines but drones can do much more. Parcel delivery with drones seems a logical next step but in the Netherlands this form of delivery is still in its infancy.
Logan, the capital of drone delivery
In the Netherlands, drone delivery may still be in its infancy, but in the Australian city of Logan, more than 50,000 packages were already delivered using drones by 2021. Technically, parcel delivery by drone is possible. It is a technology that offers consumers a faster way to that which they need at the time, even in remote areas and without additional burden on the already congested road network.
Drones basically fly autonomously and can determine their own route taking into account tall structures and air traffic. That autonomous flying is the problem. For a long time in the Netherlands, it was not possible to conduct drone flight over urban areas. European regulations changed that, and since 2020 it has been possible to use autonomous drones for delivery. But simple it is not. In the Netherlands, a pilot must always be able to see the drone himself, unless an exemption has been granted. The Environmental and Transport Inspectorate issues such an exemption only if you can prove that no alternative transportation is possible and the flight can be conducted safely. For each new flight, you need such a permit all over again.
Test flights in the Netherlands
A number of test flights of delivery drones have already been conducted in the Netherlands. For example, ANWB conducted a trial of drone transport of blood and medication between hospitals, and Thuisbezorgd held a trial flight of drone meal delivery in Amsterdam in 2021. In 2023, the first official Dutch flight path over built-up areas for drones will be put into operation. That runs from South Holland to the North Sea. Here, drones can be used for flights where the drone flies out of the pilot’s sight and even completely autonomously.
Drone of drone delivery services
Fast and durable
The main advantage of delivery with drones, though, is speed. A drone is not affected by traffic jams and can choose the shortest possible route. Not only is delivery by drone fast but it is also sustainable because there are basically no emissions. Delivery by drones is therefore “greener” than land transportation. When you charge the drones’ batteries with green electricity, you can speak of sustainable aviation.
Support in society
Drones make quite a bit of noise, and when package delivery by drones will become widespread, noise pollution may result. In addition, drones have high-quality cameras on board, and the question is whether we want drones with cameras to become part of our society.
Is large-scale delivery by drone already possible?
Some things will have to happen before delivery drones can be used on a large scale. Consider, for example, range, safety, battery life but also the weight a drone can currently carry. As technology and regulations continue to evolve, delivery drones will certainly become a fixture in logistics.