The Next Big Thing: Delivery Drones?

by Christopher Paul on January 8, 2013

When we think of drones, we often think of their use in the Middle East. They carry out recon and attack specific targets all from the safety of a desk somewhere at a central command station. Increasingly, they’re being used in the US but only for recon (so far). But smaller drones – the size of a radio controlled toy – could be the newest disruptive technology to change the way we live.

Think of them as replacements (or supplements) to delivery services like FedEx and UPS. Messenger companies wouldn’t have to employ “runners” which use bicycles or the Subway to quickly transport documents or light objects from one place to another intracity

Here is John Robb who came up with the idea:

It’s an approach that uses “uncontrolled airspace” and incremental purchases of cheap, standards compliant pads/drones to roll itself out (very similar to the way the Internet was able to piggy back on the old telephone system).

As a result of this open approach and decentralization, it’s something that could grow VERY fast.

Here’s a simplified version of what I’m talking about:

  1. I put package onto a landing pad at my home.
  2. Drone arrives, takes package and flies away.
  3. Drone delivers package to landing pad at delivery location.

There’s almost nothing technically in the way of this happening right now.

Of course, the FAA and other regulators could get in the way. But the idea that, with an iOS app, I can schedule a bot to come deliver the gloves someone left at my house the other day to their apartment across the river and get notifications on when it arrived is awesome. Just think about how that could change shopping at Main Street? Even big box retailers can benefit.

Here’s my example:

  • I order something online from a clothing retailer who has an internet presence and a brick and mortar store close to me.
  • They ship it from stock that’s in a store.
  • I get it an hour later.
  • I try on the item and it doesn’t fit right.
  • I schedule an exchange and a robot comes and drops off a different size and takes away the old one.

I could do all my shopping from my iPad and get everything I ordered that very day without having to interact with a single person. It’s the introvert’s dream!

via Kottke

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