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Online shoppers hesitant to embrace aerial delivery technology

Online shoppers hesitant to embrace aerial delivery technology
Online shoppers hesitant to embrace aerial delivery technology

Cities are overpopulated and urban infrastructure resources are pushed to the limit. The delivery space is now turning to aerial options to make last-mile delivery more effective. The Philippines is ranked the most highly populated country in the world. Pateros, Mandaluyong and Mandaluyong account for the most extreme cases seen globally

Aerial delivery of parcels or cargo is increasingly taking root globally. Despite the excitement about what the future holds, citizens are hesitant to embrace it just yet.

Do customers prefer posties above robot delivery

Most Australians prefer the traditional handover of their parcel by a postman for those last mile deliveries. This is what researchers found while conducting a survey on transport and logistics, in association with the University of Sydney. It appears to be linked to the speed of delivery, costs involved and whether the infrastructure allows it. The value of the parcel is also a determining factor. 

For expensive goods the human postie had the thumbs up. Where infrastructure was limited, delivery by drone was highly considered. Some believe it’s too early to draw any conclusions yet. Locate2u CEO Steve Orenstein wants more people to first have the experience before shooting the proverbial drone down. “A lot of money is being invested in drone delivery. Particularly in regional areas where you need to get medical equipment into a farm. Drones are going to be really cost effective and fast to get those items into the rural area.”

Will aerial delivery become more prevalent in areas closer to the cities with more populated and dense areas? It’s anyone’s guess. Oberstein remains optimistic: “If it means customers can get their products faster, I think the results from the survey will change dramatically. I think with the costs reduced as well for the customer, people are going to love that experience.”

Drone delivery optimism

The latest available data from Globalia Logistics Network indicates that more than 660 000 commercial drone deliveries had taken place. More companies globally are exploring this delivery method every day. Cargo drones in 2023 are expected to reach 1585 million AUD. This is expected to grow by more than 14% over the next remaining six months. 

In Africa more companies are using drone technology for deliveries in the health sector. It includes the delivery of blood in remote areas. Due to poor infrastructure and road maintenance many roads in Africa are inaccessible by vehicle. Delivery by hand can take several days. 

Autonomous plane delivery making history

Aviation technology company Merlin Labs New Zealand in Kerikeri will soon send unmanned planes to deliver cargo to certain areas. This is to cut cost, time and get around logistics. It will first start with two pilots supervising the trips. At the same time Merlin will integrate software to turn it into an autonomous aircraft. The use of technology in aviation could exceed customer experience by miles. It could be seen as a huge financial expense in the beginning. However over an extensive period of time, companies would be able to move freight faster between locations. 

Orenstein believes it’s only the start of autonomous plane delivery. He predicts it’s only a matter of time before more countries will follow suit. “You think about the amount of freight that’s moved between Sydney and Melbourne on a daily basis in Australia, but also in the US across different states every single day. It’s going to be significantly cheaper to move the freight. This will be the future of autonomous air freight, and right across the world.”

Feasibility of aerial delivery

According to a study done by global management consulting firm Mckinsey & Company it could soon become cost competitive compared to other more traditional delivery options in the market for years. 

More work needs to be done to minimize the cost of labour to operate and monitor drones in the airspace. 

In many countries getting the right paperwork in place and approval from aviation authorities could be seen as a lengthy process. 

About the author

Mia is a multi-award-winning journalist. She has more than 14 years of experience in mainstream media. She's covered many historic moments that happened in Africa and internationally. She has a strong focus on human interest stories, to bring her readers and viewers closer to the topics at hand.

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