In the US alone, the Delivery Drones Market grew from $40 million to $1 billion between 2012 and 2017, with that number doubling by 2020. By 2026, it is expected to reach $5.6 billion.
Last mile delivery is the most expensive and difficult leg of a package’s journey, making up around 50% of total distribution costs. Drone technology optimizes last mile delivery by transporting packages from nearby warehouses or distribution centers to a specific address.
And unlike traditional delivery vehicles, drones can ‘fly as the crow flies’, allowing them to avoid traffic and or circuitous delivery paths. Drones are also fast, making same day delivery the norm in many areas – and in some cases even making ‘same hour’ delivery a possibility.
This also means there are environmental benefits when drones are used for delivery: the average delivery of a package by truck creates around 1kg of greenhouse gas emissions. Drones, on the other hand, reduce both energy consumption and the release of greenhouse gasses, because they generally run on battery power. If those batteries are charged with green energy, the substantial amount of carbon emitted from commercial and industrial transportation will be significantly reduced.
Beyond deliveries, drones will increase warehouse efficiencies, circling the perimeter of warehouses to conduct safety inspections, while also supporting inspections, preventative maintenance, and the repair of complex machinery within a manufacturing plant. Drones can also be used to speed up pick and put away processes, with lightweight drones being as an alternative to conveyer belts or forklifts for retrieving and putting away orders.
And finally, intelligent drones are crucial where other modes of transport are not viable, such as delivering vital relief and medical supplies to disaster zones or in other emergency situations.
With the global population expected to hit 9.6 billion by 2050, innovative agricultural practices will be vital in order to feed everyone. Smart drone tech will enable the application of precision agriculture techniques, which ensure efficiency of inputs such as water and fertilizer, while maximizing productivity, quality, and yield. Precision agriculture also helps minimize pests, unwanted flooding, and disease. In other words, drones are revolutionizing agriculture and offering major costs savings, enhanced efficiency, and increased profitability.
Drones can carry out comprehensive monitoring of crops and livestock conditions, with the ability to quickly spot problems that might not be apparent from the ground. By quickly surveying wide swaths of farmland, drones can map the property, predict and monitor crop growth, report on crop health, monitor irrigation, and improve spraying accuracy. Just one example would be time-lapse drone photography revealing that a crop is not being properly irrigated.
The ability to collect and analyze data in real time has very tangible outcomes: better crop yield, better use of resources, and data-driven decision making. Additionally, with the ability to identify pests, weeds, diseases and nutritional efficiencies in the early stages, there is a reduced need for harmful pesticides and other chemicals.
You can read more about IoT and Agriculture here.
Inspection and maintenance of industrial facilities can be both challenging and dangerous. Things like boilers, furnaces, mines, power grids, seaports, oil and gas – these all have areas that can be hard to access and can pose health hazards to workers. Smart drones, though, expedite maintenance and inspections in a much safer way: through the use of sensors and cameras, drones gather data which is then relayed in real time to an inspector, who can then act on that information in a safe and secure way.