IDTechEx analyzes the future of drone delivery

BOSTON, February 17, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — In 2021, more than 100 employees of Amazon Prime Air, Amazon’s drone delivery program, were reported to have lost their jobs and dozens of other roles were being transferred to other projects. This was not exciting news and made some people think about the feasibility of drone delivery in the near future.

In late 2021, Amazon confirmed reports outlining layoffs at Amazon Prime Air, but they claimed the layoffs were due to “the reorganization of a small team within the larger Prime Air organization to allow Amazon to best align with customer and business needs. And in their statement, they said they were trying to find other roles in the fields for affected employees. However, unsurprisingly, Amazon was reluctant to give an exact figure for the number of layoffs.

With a promising start, Amazon announced its drone delivery service program in December 2013 and predicts that the service could be ready within five years by 2018. But so far, they haven’t really launched the service to the public yet. However, some recent reports indicate that Prime Air is planning a soft launch in Q3 2022. Why is it taking so long for Amazon to launch drone delivery? What could the future of drone delivery look like? Analysis of the new IDTechEx report, “Mobile Robotics in Logistics, Warehousing and Delivery 2022-2042”, gives us the answers.

The report reveals that regulation is now one of the biggest challenges in the market. Regulations and legislation for drone delivery are not yet established. In most countries or regions, there are no specific regulations for autonomous delivery drones. However, general regulations for all drones generally do not allow them to fly when out of visual line of sight. This means that during delivery, someone has to monitor the flight in the field, making it impossible to scale and commercialize much of the drone delivery business. Some countries, like Iceland, have more permissive regulations. But this is because most parts of the country are not densely populated and hence there are less business opportunities in these countries.

Drone delivery operations are strictly controlled by the authorities as some major risks of using delivery drones cannot yet be handled well. Safety is always a primary concern. Since drones are operated at a certain level of height, any component failure, mid-air collision, battery disruption, or loss of communication could potentially cause the drones to fall to the ground, causing serious damage to persons or property. . Thus, drones, especially autonomous drones, generally need to have redundant designs. Another big concern is privacy leakage. In order to land precisely on the ground and avoid obstacles, cameras and other scanning sensors are often implemented on autonomous drones. This will inevitably collect unauthorized privacy data. If handled improperly, the data may lead to privacy leakage issues. Also, once civilian aircraft, such as drones and air taxis, are deployed again, air traffic conditions will be very different, likely congested, and regulations will be needed to control traffic.

Despite the current challenges, the future drone delivery market is still very promising, as drones can enable fast and relatively cost-effective deliveries, especially in suburban, rural and mountainous areas. Now, some countries and regions have approved semi-commercial drone test or delivery operations and announced the drone deregulation plans. For example, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has published proposed airworthiness criteria for the certification of 10 different unmanned aircraft systems, seven of which are used for healthcare, retail or food delivery, allowing drones to be operated in US restricted areas.

In the “Mobile Robotics in Logistics, Warehousing and Delivery 2022-2042” report, IDTechEx predicts that the drone delivery market will grow at a healthy pace in the short term, but the real market take-off could occur after this decade. This report also includes drone technology analysis, comprehensive comparison between drone and robotic delivery, latest regulatory updates, profiles of major market players and more. Readers can also find technology and market analyzes for other mobile robots used in logistics, such as AGVs, AMRs, mobile picking robots, self-driving trucks, and last-mile delivery robots. For more information and sample pages, please contact [email protected].

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