As we advance technologically, sooner or later we will be receiving our deliveries via drone. We have already seen the delivery robots on wheels that deliver our food, it is no surprise that drones are next. “Amazon, Walmart, UPS, and Kroger are among the large retailers and delivery providers that are rapidly scaling up drone delivery tests. Others will soon follow.” Although this would revolutionize the standard way we do deliveries, there are many factors to take into consideration when making this big move.
Equipping warehouses to accommodate the drones would be the first hurdle to jump over. There is a lot to think about when trying to equip a warehouse to be drone safe; where is it going to land? How is it going to get loaded? Who is going to load the drone? Whether the rooftops of these warehouses are loading docks or large windows replace walls, warehouses would have to make a major shift from how things were being done previously; “It means rethinking warehouse logistics, including operations inside facilities that will have to shift from pallet loading to single-item loading”. Drone provider AgEagle Aerial Systems and Valqari, a Chicago-based startup that is building a drone delivery “mailbox” that allows drones to deliver packages directly into a safe and secure box, are two of a series of companies that are making automatic loading and unloading a key feature of their drone systems. In their case, the drone can pick up or drop off the package in a Drone Delivery Station without human hands touching it.
While rooftop landing pads may make the most sense, there will be questions about whether the roof is structurally significant to handle drones, and how many. Additionally, if the warehouse is a multi storey facility, how will the packages reach the roof? They could go on conveyors or elevators, and personnel may need to work on the roof to monitor operations or even load the drones. All of these considerations are just a few of the potential changes warehouses may have to undergo to accommodate last-mile drone delivery. Until now, most pilot projects are limited in scale, meaning these next-level accommodations have not been front and center, but that is about to change.