The WSJ had a great article [paywall] about deliveries by drones last week. It covers Wing Aviation, Amazon, DJI, UPS, Flytrex and the lesser-known company, and a subsidiary from Flytrex, Aha that delivers coffee by drone in Iceland. Here are some of the highlights.
Christopher Mims writes for the WSJ that:
“On a not-so-blustery day in Reykjavik, a drone rises above a treeless Icelandic landscape. It’s carrying a package, likely someone’s dinner. Once rare and exotic, sorties like this have become routine in just two years’ time.”
“These deliveries are made by Icelandic subsidiary Aha, the equivalent of DoorDash or Postmates in the U.S. Its drones can carry food and small consumer goods in a 2.5-mile radius, soon to expand to 5 miles with the introduction of more powerful drones from China’s DJI. Aha’s drone-delivery service is one of only a handful in the world.”
“Flytrex, the company providing Aha’s drone guidance and delivery technology.”
In the article, Mims says that the real obstacles are not the technical abilities of the drones but the legal restrictions and drone regulations that are currently in place in the U.S. and in other more developed countries around the world.
“These days, the main barriers to adoption of drone delivery are legal.”
“Aha’s current license allows the company to reach customers along 13 main flight paths, and deviate by nearly half a mile to make a home delivery. Everything a drone passes over—roads, buildings and the like—has been put into a geographic model that assesses the risk to people were the 34-pound drone to come crashing to earth, says Maron Kristofersson, co-founder and chief executive of Aha.”
“When it comes to delivering food, drones are much faster than humans in cars. In Iceland, one drone can perform as many deliveries per hour as three cars, says Mr. Kristofersson.”
Throughout the article it becomes obvious that deliveries by drone are most useful for urgent smaller packages in suburban areas, however, the author points out that:
If near-instant drone delivery sounds crazy, keep in mind that we’re already using multiton vehicles with human drivers to deliver a few pounds of takeout—and paying $5 to $10 for the privilege, not including tip. “How many times do we get in our car and drive 10 miles to get dinner or some small item?” says Mr. Blanks. “There’s no doubt a 10-pound aircraft flying on electric power consumes much less energy and is faster.”