Monday, September 22, 2014

Drone Delivery: The Way of the Future?

After reading about FedEx's "Matrix," where millions of packages are sorted in a night's time with a 99% accuracy rate, both speed and quality are apparent values of the company. With the increasing number of people who wait until the last minute to order things (I am so guilty!), this efficiency is essential to the success of many Internet-based retail powerhouses, like Zappos. So, shipping companies are always looking for new ways to deliver - pun intended.

FedEx's direct competitor UPS (as well as Amazon and Google) are beginning to investigate drone delivery, a system where packages would be delivered by small, unmanned aircraft - some kind of a hybrid between a helicopter and airplane. Check out this video released by Amazon last year that shows exactly what drone delivery could look like:

Of course, this development has the potential to change the whole shipping game. Amazon's video above shows a guy logged into his iPad clicking an option for 30-minute drone delivery of the product he wants. 30 minutes! Customers would never have to plan ahead for things they want to purchase - parents could order presents, for example, on the day of their child's birthday. Christmas won't require months of planning either. This idea is truly revolutionary, but I wonder what will happen to shopping malls and strip malls nationwide - will they become obsolete? Small "mom and pop" stores are already in trouble, but will this invention do them in for good?

Drone delivery would improve the quality, accuracy, and speed of shipping overall. As well as FedEx does with its "Matrix," shipping mistakes would be essentially eliminated with the use of drones, and speed would be unprecedented. Amazon hopes to make their drones deliver in 30 minutes; even delivery within a few hours of placing an order would be exciting! Certainly, the pioneers of this technology are going to see a huge spike in their business (Amazon, in particular), but if shipping-specialized companies like FedEx and UPS can begin using drone delivery, virtually all businesses with online marketplaces will be able to start promising same-day delivery - perhaps this will boost their businesses as well!

The downside, of course, is that patience will no longer be a virtue....

My sources:

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