If you’ve been keeping up with the news lately, you may or may not have heard about the recent discussions centred around drones possibly showing up at your doorstep to deliver that watch you bought online.
While it may seem surreal to think about machines with propellers hovering over your city bearing gifts and groceries, this sci-fi film-esque future may soon be upon us. The commercial use of drones in the postal and courier industry is said to be not just an efficient move but a feasible one.
If the purported advantages from implementing drone technology in various fields like health, agriculture and medicine are anything to go by, these machines could even help manage emergency situations by sending food supplies to people trapped in disaster areas (such as those hit by floods). NGOs, aid workers and medical professionals may all soon find their roles supplemented by drone-savvy operators.
The race begins
Countries like Switzerland are incorporating delivery initiatives via drones and China has joined the race too, getting to work on their first few prototype models of fully-functional delivery drones.
They appear to be in a race against other nations to develop unmanned aerial vehicles with the strength, range and reliability needed to move goods on a large scale, effectively solving the expensive “last-mile” problem for couriers. As traditional logistics gets disrupted/displaced by innovations such as those brought about by drone technology, workers in these sectors should take their cue from the autonomous vehicles that could disrupt large numbers of truck drivers all over the world. Massive retraining and reskilling may be in order.
A need for data
For such a massive operation to actually ‘take off’ successfully, data is needed on a colossal scale. The automation, security and reliability factors of drone deliveries rely heavily on the ability to gather huge amounts of data for analytical and execution purposes.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) gave the green light for JD.com and SF Holding Co, the country’s biggest express-delivery company, to start sending packages by drone in certain rural areas. This serves a purpose- creating an extensive network that comprises a full-fledged system of drones throughout the different stages of delivery.
Small drones will be needed for the final delivery but large autonomous fixed-wing planes that travel between landing strips will also be required. Such specialised careers may require specialised training. Teaching modules and evaluation should all play a coordinated role in guiding the development of drone-related industries.
Accessibility is key
Aside from advanced drone technology, accessibility may also be an issue for many regions with rural populations. Consumers living in remote areas may be extremely difficult to reach but this could also be a great opportunity to test the true capacity of delivery drones. China is currently undergoing this assessment.
A matter of security
Another major obstacle to tackle is safety, especially with numerous delivery drones operating at any given time. Expect that accidents are pretty much bound to happen due to technical issues. Solutions may include an integration of developments in IoT (Internet of Things) as well as the development of skilled professionals who focus on the drone market.
The rapid growth in drone technology has opened up opportunities to test the transportation of goods from one place to another. Drones should have the ability to send goods of various sizes without a problem and deal with other factors.
Either way, it seems that drone deliveries are quickly becoming a reality. The competition is on and all the biggest players are keeping their eyes out for any developments taking place. Look out for new roles, jobs and careers that may become increasingly important as our deliveries possibly take to the skies of our cities and rural areas in the near future.