Article date: 13th November 2014
The race for ‘delivery by drone’ is hotting up and the face of retail is set for even greater changes going forward. Online retail has already led to a major shift in our shopping habits and that is set to increase even further with the prospect of faster delivery services by drone.
Drones are unmanned aircraft and the preferred design of choice for delivery vehicles is the quadcopter.
A quadcopter, also called a quadrotor helicopter, quadrotor, is a multirotor helicopter that is lifted and propelled by four rotors. Quadcopters are classified as rotorcraft, as opposed to fixed-wing aircraft, because their lift is generated by a set of rotors (vertically oriented propellers).
The technology website Tech Crunch has reported that:
“Cambridge is feted for its world-class university which, in turn, acts as a hub for concentrating science and technology talent, naturally leading to many startups spinning out from it. Amazon is evidently hoping to grab itself a larger slice of this local talent. A source familiar with the company’s plans told TechCrunch it will focus on Prime Air, its autonomous delivery drones project, and on beefing up its speech tech R&D team.
The e-commerce giant has been staffing up for Prime Air over the summer, including seeking hires in Cambridge. It has continued advertising for Prime Air positions in the U.K.”
And The Guardian also reports that:
“Amazon is planning to test drones in Cambridge, England, as the battle to offer consumers same-day deliveries heats up.
The US company announced with considerable fanfare late last year that it was considering using drones as a way of dramatically reducing the time it takes to deliver orders to customers. At the time there was speculation that the move was little more than a publicity stunt. But Amazon said in July that it had sought permission from the US Federal Aviation Administration to test drones that could fly as fast as 50 miles per hour for up to 30 minutes at a time to deliver packages weighing up to 2.3kg (5lb).”
But Amazon are not alone in pioneering this new form of delivery. The Guardian also reports that:
“Google demonstrated its own drone-based delivery service this summer, using a fixed-wing aircraft to deliver packages including chocolate bars, dog treats and cattle vaccines to a farmer in the Australian outback.
In September, German courier company DHL announced the first regular drone delivery service, nine months after it launched its “parcelcopter” project. It will use an autonomous quadcopter to deliver small parcels to Juist, a sandbar island 7.45 miles (12km) off the German coast in the North Sea that is inhabited by 2,000 people. Deliveries will include medication and other urgent goods.”
We expect mishaps and accidents along the way – as with any pioneering technology. Collisions, deliveries to the wrong address and possibly even air-piracy will no doubt be the stuff of headlines in the future.
But it would appear that this is no passing fad, but something that will one day be part of our everyday lives.[ More Information: Tech Crunch | The Guardian | Quadcopters ]
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