February 15, 2015
FAA Rules Open Up Some Flying Drone Apps, Not Delivery

The FAA new regulations do not allow for delivery drones.

Delivery drones, autonomous vehicles, and rejuvenation therapies all seem like candidates for first introduction in smaller countries with low levels of regulation. Smaller EU countries are probably out due to EU-level regulations. Ideal countries will have a high enough per capita income to create enough demand. Taiwan? Singapore? Iceland?

Another point about delivery drones: It isn't clear they can work in cities. The problem is the front door. If drones are going to deliver to your doorstep then you need to have an outside doorstep. Apartment buildings with apartment doors that open on the inside deny a drone the means to do doorstep delivery or even lobby delivery.

If there is a sufficient will (high enough ROI) there is a way. Imagine a rooftop drone landing area with pod doors that electronically open upward. Each storage pod could open up its top in response to a WiFi or Bluetooth signal sent by a drone. The drone would then drop packages into a pod bin. Then robots on wheels could pick up each package (or pod that contains it), go to a service elevator, and take the package to the right door.

The cost and complexity of urban delivery into large buildings makes it seem a more distant prospect. Suburbs are lower hanging fruit. So they'll come first. What about rural? Drones will have to travel greater distances per delivery. But then so do humans now. If the dollars per hour for the drone come out to less than the dollars per hour for the human and truck then the drones will fly.

What I haven't seen discussed yet: Where do the drones take off from? I think most people are assuming the drones come from buildings. But why? It might make more sense to have something like a UPS truck that cruises thru a town with dozens of drones flying off it and returning to its moving base to pick up more packages. A human in the open back of a truck could load packages onto a stream of drones that keep landing and taking off.

So next imagine that the truck is computer-driven (no big stretch there). When a truck gets emptied another autonomous truck pulls up behind it, the human walks back to it, and the delivery drones start landing on it instead. So no human time wasted on trips back to a warehouse for refills.

Landing zones are pretty interesting with drone delivery. Just as with the city building the suburban landing zones do not have to be on the ground. In the future we might build our houses to have roof delivery landing zones with easy access to bring the packages inside. Perhaps a cover pops open, the package gets dropped, and then it gets lowered to be reachable from a door in the hallway of the top floor.

Ground delivery seems much more problematic. Dogs will decide drones are as evil as UPS delivery trucks. Kids will be kids. Rooftop delivery seems much less problematic once it is set up. Some houses will have rooftop drone delivery beacons to tell the drones who accepts delivery on that roof and where to land and how to signal to open the pod door.

Update: Aggressive use of UAVs could cut the need for warehouses. Consider a long haul truck that comes near its destination. A human worker or two or three hop onto the back with UAVs, start loading the UAVs from the truck, and the goods start flying away to their destination. Never an overnight unloading to reload into local delivery trucks.

The same could be done with trains. Each freight car could be stacked to have the stuff that gets delivered first on top or near the door. As the train winds around into an urban area it could start disgorging goods to final destinations via UAVs. Big UAVs could move heavier goods onto trucks for surface road delivery while the little stuff flies all the way to final destination.

Ships could do the same. Sail along a coast line and do UAV delivery as they slowly cruise. Or they could offload with robotic cranes onto smaller craft which then go inland up rivers where UAVs do the final leg of delivery.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2015 February 15 10:48 AM 


Comments
Dr. Franklyn said at February 16, 2015 6:31 AM:

Drons are not ROBOTS. Don't expect anything from them that we could expect from Robots. In an apartment drons can deliver products if the receiver gets information that a drone will deliver him his ordered product in his balcony or on his roof on a certain time. Then the receiver can go to roof and wait for landing the drone. Another way can be like this. Every apartment has a security front desk usually located in ground floor of the apartment. Usually security guards wait there to see if any unauthorized person try to enter to the apartment. So drons can deliver its product to the security guards and then the guards can deliver the products to the appropriate customer.

Beth Donovan said at February 16, 2015 11:18 AM:

I would love to be able to fly a drone over my farm to see where my goats are grazing. This would save me a ton of time and energy.

Engineer-Poet said at February 16, 2015 1:38 PM:

You can buy R/C electric airplane kits for a couple hundred bucks.  I'm sure someone has a GPS/computer combo that can generate PWM signals that would drive the servos instead of the R/C receiver.  Put a camera on the plane and have it run a pre-programmed route, then land in your yard.  Recharge and repeat as required.

Sure, the FAA wouldn't allow it, but if you didn't say anything how would they know?

Russ in TX said at February 17, 2015 11:49 AM:

You need buildings. Not for the delivery, but for the SORT. Sorting operations at major logistics companies are an epic daily task and cannot be performed by just one dude hopping in and out of a machine.

LoboSolo said at February 19, 2015 6:05 AM:

As someone who workt as a clerk for UPS in my college days, my gess would be that drones would be sent out from the warehouse. The problem is how productiv is that? One driver can deliver a lot packages for that he knows his area and lays out the packages for his route. If I, as a clerk, hav to bring back a drone for every package, that is not at all efficient. It might be good for a few outliers those that liv in the country and the driver has to go out of his way to find it but for the deliveries in town, I don't see these replacing the drivers any time soon.

Not only that, but often you can't just drop a package on the stoop. I'm sure that we'v had those notes from UPS or FedEx saying they misst us. How do you do that with a drone?

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ad said at August 24, 2016 12:42 AM:

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Effectiveness and relevance: Efektif dan relevan agar dapat memfasilitasi perdagangan
d dd Konstruksi Baja fabrikasi

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