People have found many useful applications for modern drones and quadcopters. Other than their use for military operations, intelligence and surveillance, they are now widely being employed by large companies for logistics and transport of goods. This area has a complete competitive edge for companies since a large part of their business relies on efficient and fast delivery of goods. Drones are not just used for the delivery purpose they are also used for the other areas related to logistics including management, storage and supervision of the transport of goods.
In most cases of transport, speed is very crucial. This is particularly true for spare part logistics within a factory. If machines fail to work, there is a huge loss of time and revenue. Transport drones are able to move these spare parts quickly and hence save a lot of manpower and time. Transport drones are operating quite successfully in a factory setup where they provide their services 24/7 and without any sort of delays or accidents. However, these machines need to be improved so that they can carry more payloads and fly more efficiently and securely to their destinations.
Features of Drones Used for Logistics and Transport
Drones used in transport are able to carry a payload of 400g to 5000g. There are different types of UAVs currently in use for this purpose and the flight time depends on the specifications of these machines including battery life and equipment. Usually up to 30 minutes is considered an average flight time for these drones. The machines also provide an attractive feature of autopilot, which means the drone is able to fly autonomously in a specified range without the need for a transmitter or remote controller.
Companies offering drone transport ensure redundancy in their design of flight electronics and their powerful motors and accumulators ensure a safe drone flight and guaranteed delivery of goods to their destination. The drone has cognitive abilities due to the availability of a special sensor technology on board. This UAV is able to sense its surroundings by perception and analysis. An optical sensor is fitted on the drone that senses objects and sends data for further action.
The drones can be controlled with the help of software on a PC that provides the following functions:
· Flight planning
· Flight stability
· Real-time visualization
· Integration with Google Maps and Google Earth
These transport drones are not like the ones available off-the-shelf for personal or commercial use. Those are small devices with or without a camera designed mostly like a quadcopter and sometimes equipped with a GPS and some other features. However, transport drones are designed more like a delivery vehicle and have enough space to securely house a package as well as some extra sensors to deliver the package safely and with success.
Future of Drones in Transport
Currently drones are helping many companies to realize fast delivery and pickup to go ahead of their competitors. The future direction in this area is to allow drones to stop in mid-air and hand over the package to another drone that it meets during the flight. Flying robots are also being tested to be used for this purpose and they are expected to be faster and more reliable than drones. Moreover, it is being experimented that how these machines can be made more cost-efficient and more flexible to allow catering to a large number of applications in the logistics and transport industry.
In future, transport drones will be developed with sense-and-avoid technology. It will enable them to sense obstacles in order to avoid colliding with them in mid-air. If companies decide to deliver their products to customers through drones, they will need to make sure that the package is not lost in transit. Otherwise it will be a complete failure and a huge loss. Since these machines are supposed to be fully autonomous or highly automated, there is also a chance of having them hacked by hackers. This is another area which needs to be addressed before transport drones can become a reality for companies wanting to deliver their merchandise to customers at their doorstep.
Amazon’s Delivery Drone
In 2015, Amazon announced its delivery drone to the world that would be able to deliver packages in a matter of hours after a person buys a product from the store online. The vehicle was developed for the facility Prime Air that provides same-day delivery to customers who opt for it. This drone would be able to deliver the package within 30 minutes of order placement on the internet. According to Amazon, their small drones are designed to weigh not more than 25kg. However, one drawback of this prime delivery is that you can only order items that weight less than 5 lbs. These machines will be totally autonomous and complete their mission without human intervention. They are also able to return to their home after successful delivery of the package. Amazon launched a video on YouTube that demonstrate how this drone will find the recipient’s address and then figure out where to land by inspecting the backyard of the house. The customer would need a landing square to place in the backyard, which will be recognized by the drone. Once the package is delivered, the customer will take the square back in the house.
However, this whole thing made a lot of people perplexed on how exactly it would be achieved because of so many orders being placed every minute in the USA alone. Would there be a horde of drones all over the place flying to their destinations? How would every customer get its package within 30 minutes of placing an order?
These and many other questions have been answered by a representative from Amazon. There is a security risk involved with such type of delivery but let’s see how Amazon handles it in the future and changes the world of online shopping by making it possible for people to receive their packages so quickly and efficiently!