The coronavirus pandemic has frozen much of the world’s aviation industry and grounded fleets. As a result, it has accelerated the use of autonomous flying drones in a humanitarian effort to beat the crisis.
“Autonomous drones offer lower cost per mile and higher speed than vans in last-mile deliveries,” says Pedro Pacheco, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner. “When they deliver parcels, their operational costs are at least 70% lower than a van delivery service.”
Gartner predicts that in 2026, more than one million drones will be carrying out retail deliveries, up from 20,000 today. The growing adoption of autonomous flying drones will force CIOs in the mobility and transportation industries to rethink their business and operational models to exploit new forms of air mobility and remain competitive.
Inevitably, the growing adoption of autonomous delivery drones will force land transportation companies to incorporate air mobility into their supply chains to remain competitive. However, to stay competitive, the company’s business and operational models must evolve to fully leverage air mobility. For instance, the need for fast and frequent deliveries during COVID-19 are an opportunity for companies to start a drone delivery service that meets customer expectations more effectively. Beyond the pandemic, companies can consider autonomous flying drones as an opportunity to offer a premium service, like a fast delivery option.
While technical constraints exist, the most serious inhibitor for the deployment of autonomous flying drones is legislation. Regulators, such as the FAA in the U.S., will be gradually enabling new UTM features, but in most major markets, their implementation can be expected to take several years. ✷
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