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Delivery Drones: The Future of Delivery Business?

Delivery drone guide
Jack Brown
Written by Jack Brown

Do you know what delivery drones are? If not, this will be the topic of today’s article so continue reading to find out more. By now, you should have realized that the drones are here to stay, and in a not so distant future, even become a part of our everyday life routine.

Ever since they showed up, drones were on a constantly evolving path and now, the models come with much more advanced features that allow them to perform tasks we would never have imagined them doing some 10 years ago. Not to mention that the price of owning one is not as high as it was the first time they appeared on the market.

At this point, drones (by drones we mean the hobby multirotor models, not the military ones, but if you want to find out more about the military drones, we have the perfect article for you) are still mostly used for having fun during the weekend, or for commercial purposes such as making amazing photos and footage for commercials or movies.

Delivery drone idea

Also, the drone racing has become a very popular sport in the last couple of years, and you can get more familiar with this topic in our article about drone racing. But, some companies have a different plan for drones. Imagine ordering something from Amazon, and at the time when you are expecting the delivery, you get a message that tells you to get out in front of your house to pick up your package.

Instead of the delivery guy, you see a drone hovering above your lawn, with your package in its landing gear! How great would that be? Well, even though there are some law issues that are still keeping this idea from realization, the fact is that it will become a reality probably in the next couple of years.

Who Will Be The Pioneers in Drone Delivery Business?

Now, let us take a look at some of the companies that are really serious about delivering their products with a fleet of drones.

Amazon Prime Air

With their new drone delivery system, the Amazon’s goal is to use drones for delivering packages to their customers in half an hour or less with. They claim that their drones are capable of traveling within a 10-mile radius, and carrying packages that are weighing up to 5 pounds.

Amazon Prime Air delivery drone

Even though this project is still in the developing stage, Amazon is hoping that they will start this form of delivery sometime in the near future.

Flirtey

Thanks to “The Land Downunder’s” relatively free drone regulations, the Flirtey start-up is quite serious about delivering anything, at any time, to any place, with the use of drones.

Flirtey delivery drone

As with Amazon, the Australian company’s drone delivery project is still in the developing stages, but their determination to use this technology, and their strong branding, leaves us believing that they will be one of the leaders in this growing industry.

Domino’s

The globally famous Domino’s Pizza, more precisely their UK branch, has revealed that they are thinking about the idea of using drones for the delivery of their pizzas.

They have released the video of their “DomiCopter” dropping of pizzas to customer’s homes, which pretty much became viral in just a few hours after release.

No official statement has been released by Domino’s yet, but a notable number of other food companies are considering having a piece of this automated “flying cake”.

FedEx

The famous package delivery service is also considering implementing the drone technology for the modernization of their services. Their plan is to turn their delivery trucks into a vehicle that will serve as a drone base, with a take-off and landing zone on the roof of the vehicle.

FedEx delivery drone

They will not use the drones for the entire run, but instead, use them when the driver is in the area that is close to the customer, and to avoid any further traffic hold-ups and delays. This will speed up the process and also cut down on fuel bills.

Matternet

Matternet, the logistics start-up is considering the idea of using drone fleets to deliver medicine and medical supplies to underdeveloped and remote areas.

Matternet delivery drone

Even though this project is still in the developing stages, the Matternet network has the potential to change the way people look at this line of work.

RTF Drone Models Suitable for This Job

Now, before we go down the article to the part where we will explain which RTF models are suitable for the drone delivery business, we have to mention that the companies we mentioned above are planning on using their own built models. Why?

RTF Drone Models delivery

Well, if you start from scratch and start building your own drone, you will have plenty of room to modify it the way you want and tailor it to fit your needs perfectly. However, these companies have huge budgets and large teams of drone building engineers that were probably hired to make perfect models.

So, if you don’t have such a team behind you, and your budget is as not as high as theirs, what choice do you have for starting your own drone delivery business? Well, you could go down the DIY path and make a drone on your own by ordering the right parts, but that takes too much time.

The answer is Ready to Fly drones. But, unlike with commercial models that come in a wide palette, drones that would be capable of lifting loads heavier than an action cam, come in much smaller numbers.

Here are the ones that have proved themselves to be suitable for this purpose:

DJI Spreading Wings S1000+

This is mainly a photography drone, but the ability to carry heavy loads makes this model an excellent delivery drone as well.

DJI Spreading Wings S1000+

Instead of getting too technical, we will simply name the characteristics of the S1000+ that are important in this line of work.

  • Stable and strong
  • It can carry large quantities – it can carry up to 7kg of equipment
  • Flight time: about 15 minutes according to the load

Having a strong and stable drone is essential for photography, but the delivery also benefits from this as no one would love to break the products during the transport and the drone has to be strong to be able to carry heavier cargo.

The 7 kg cargo capacity is actually ideal for companies like Amazon, as most of the products are under this limit. This means that the drone would even be capable of taking more than just one product per run and make several deliveries during the same run.

The flight time is actually pretty enough for delivering a product in a 5-7 miles radius. If this sounds like a model that will be suitable for your business and you want to find out more about it, we suggest that you check out our more detailed review of the DJI Spreading Wings S1000+.

Like this amazing product? Then you can buy it on Amazon.

DJI S900 Spreading Wings Hexacopter

Again, another great photography drone that is quite capable of performing delivery tasks as well. Here are its main characteristics important for this job.

  • Stable flight and strong construction
  • Can carry up to 5kg of filming equipment
  • Reduced vibrations

Like we explained above, drone needs to be strong and stable for a company to be secure enough to trust it to deliver the product to the customer without any incident along the way.

DJI S900 Spreading Wings Hexacopter

Not capable of carrying up to 7 kg like the previous model, but the 5 kg limit is more than enough for most of the delivery tasks.

Now, since this model has reduced vibrations, it could be also used for carrying fragile products, as you can be sure that it won’t break and fall apart during the flight. You can find out much more on this model by reading our DJI S900 review.

If you think that this product could be useful for you, then you can buy it from Amazon.

DJI Phantom  4

The famous Phantom 4 is probably the best filming drone on the market at the moment, but the features that it offers are great even for some other opportunities. If you want to find out all there is about this model, check out our Phantom 4 review.

OK, it might not have such a high payload limit like the previous one, but with features like the ones named below, you can pretty much send it to deliver 4 coffees on its own without having to control it in the meantime.

DJI Phantom 4 with package

Here are the main characteristics of this model:

  • Tap to fly: a feature which puts the drone on autopilot with a single tap
  • Visual Tracking of the drone’s movements
  • Sport Mode: 25% more speed than in any other modes and the same stability
  • Extended Flight Time: you can get up to 28 minutes in the air but this depends on the load on the drone.

Like this amazing product? Then you can check its price here.

Is This Idea Really Worth It?

We have to point out that the drone technology is definitely setting some new standards in the business niche in every possible aspect, but is it really worth the money when it comes to the drone delivery business?

Drone with package

It is true that by using drones, the delivery companies would drastically cut down the cost of human labor, as well as wait times. However, looking at this idea from an economic point of view, we can notice that drone delivery could be something that is not as worth it as one would imagine.

The economics of the delivery are depending on two factors, drop size and route density:

  • Route density is the number of dropoffs during one delivery run.
  • Drop-size refers to the number of packages per one delivery run.

So, in order to make a run profitable, you have to have as many deliveries as possible in the shortest amount of time possible, or the shortest distance. This makes the run profitable.

However, the drones are not capable of making many deliveries in one run (at least for now they aren’t), which makes the delivering service having to own a fleet of drones to make an actual profit from their deliveries.

Drone delivering package

The current prototypes that delivery companies plan to use (usually) have the ability to carry just one package. This means that the drone would have to end the run and return to base after every drop-off.

If you compare these facts with the fact that the UPS delivery truck makes an average of 130 stops every day, and delivers hundreds or thousands of packages, you will notice that the trucks still have an advantage over the drone.

But, the drone technology is still evolving at an unbelievable speed and we are sure that in the following couple of years the drone will offer much better features to support the delivery business.

When Will This Become Reality?

The use of the drone technology for the delivery business is facing the same problems as the self-driving car technology. Companies have presented the technology, but what still is the biggest problem for this to become reality, has a legal and regulatory nature.

Drone delivery service

At the moment, in order for a company to make a profit from drone deliveries, they would have to have deliveries that take less than an hour. The big question is if the people are willing to pay a major premium for such a service? Maybe. The time will tell, but we are pretty sure that we will not have to wait longer than Christmas 2017 or ‘18.

In the meantime, if you have any suggestions that would make this topic more interesting, or you would like to ask something, feel free to leave a comment or a question in the comment section below.

About the author
Jack Brown
Jack Brown

Jack is the Chief Pilot at MyDroneLab.com bringing experience, expertise and knowledge in this quite new industry. He is a graduate of the Drone/UAV Pilot Training Certificate program and member of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. Besides having all the necessary technical knowledge when it comes to drones, Jack and his team love to spend the time outside by the ocean, working on new features and teaching others how to pilot these amazing and exciting new robots.

  • Jeremy Volke

    Wow, this idea of delivery drones seems to be materializing. I’d love to wait and see the Amazon Prime Air just to witness how easy it will be in transporting their products even though for some of us, who are further away from customers, may not benefit us. For the time being, I’d stick with the Phantom 4 even though is expensive. But with a flight time of 28 minutes, I see a great market of delivering fish and chips to customers in close proximity to my store.

  • Jack Brown

    Yup, drones are the future of the delivery business! Personally, I can’t wait to order a pizza and wait for a drone to deliver it 🙂

  • Emily Brown

    Finally, my FedEx parcels will now be delivered on time without any traffic jams. This idea looks fascinating to me, well, only if it’s not going to be restricted to certain regions. Also, the Amazon Air is something enticing to wait for. I can’t wait to see them delivering my purchases. The industry of drones has really evolved. From spy drones to delivery drones.

  • Rockey Marz

    I wish to adopt the Domino’s delivery drone to deliver my pizza to my beloved customers. It is actually interesting to have your order being delivered without any ground distractions such as the traffic. I also applaud the FedEx and the Amazon on their proposed customized drones. Customer service, service, will be more improved. I wish they sell these drones so that young entrepreneurs can get themselves too.

  • Jack Brown

    Well, if you know how to build drones, you can easily order the needed parts and make one that will suit your business needs. The only thing that you have to check first is the law of your country and if it allows drone use of that kind. Thanks for the comment! Much appreciated.

  • Jack Mars

    The development of delivery drones is actually good news for us customers. But the sad part is, that I don’t think they’ll be available in all the regions due to some restrictions in some countries. So flying from one region to another, I don’t think it will go that easy. I can’t wait to see some product being delivered by the Amazon Prime Air.

  • Jack Brown

    To tell you the truth, just thinking about something being delivered from Amazon with a drone gives me an adrenalin rush! :))) But, there are too many regulations that need to be sorted out before this becomes real. But, that day is not that far from now 😉

  • Jack Brown

    Oh, believe me, this technology is just heating up, there are plenty more nice surprises that will happen in the near future 😉

  • Leo Swart

    The future of delivery drones looks very bright. it seems we are yet to see many developments into these drones. Probably many retailers will resort to these drones to satisfy their customers with quick deliveries. I guess the weight of the goods might affect the flight time negatively, unless they make them very strong. I think the DJI S1000+ is stable enough to deliver goods compared to other quadcopters.

    • Jack Brown

      Yup! The S1000+ is currently the best “Man” for the job! 🙂 Thanks for the comment! Much appreciated 🙂

  • Dee Lim

    As per your other posts in relation to Drones: Why is gas-powered drones not feasible for delivering of goods since it allows more flight time and heavier loads compared to an electric powered drones?

    -Dylan

    • Jack Brown

      Well, personally, I think that they are not as reliable as battery powered ones, plus, they are heavier, meaning more dangerous if they fall. Also, electric powered drones are eco-friendly, whereas gas powered pollute the air.
      I hope I answered your question the way you wanted 🙂 and thanks for the comment!

      • Dee Lim

        But right now battery powered drones flight time are too short in order to successfully drop packages during 1 single run!

        Is there any way drones can be customized in a way i want it to be? And do you think it will be pricey to do so? For example if say… instead of having the drone “picking up” packages, the objects/items could be stored in a customized compartment?

        With regards to causing danger if the drone fails, what if there is a certain safety feature like parachuting in case of failure?

        Regards,
        Dylan

        • Jack Brown

          Where to start here? 🙂 I agree that drone flight times are too short, but, that goes for most factory made RTF models. If you want to have longer flight times than some average 25 minutes, I suggest building a drone and using high-capacity batteries from 10000 mAh and higher. This will also allow you to customize it the way you want it, and yes, safety features like parachutes exist and can be used for both the drone and the cargo. And, making a drone by yourself is most the times cheaper than buying an RTF model.

          I hope this helped you a bit 🙂

          Best regards,

          Jack

          • Dee Lim

            Definitely it helps alot! Is that why there isn’t a delivery drone business out there in the market yet? (Because of short flight time/limitations in laws/unable to carry heavy loads?) One have to question why isn’t there any businesses of such in the market at the moment?

            By the way, where are you located? U.S?

            Regards,

            Dylan

  • Jack Brown

    Yup, too many obstacles at the moment 🙁 But, I am sure that in a year or two we will see drones buzzing around, delivering all sorts of things 🙂 As for where I am, Canada 🙂

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