The history of drone delivery service

Drone delivery service is gradually taking a good shape since becoming a crucial aspect of transportation in the last decade. However, none of the companies teasing us with this juicy form of goods transportation has come up with something definite.  Bezos’ Amazon Air, which has contributed more to the history of drone delivery service, thinks the service could be delivered in a “few months”. Alphabet’s baby project Google Wing, UPS, and Domino are all queuing up with quite significant milestones…

The last few years have seen the popularity of drones consistently on the rise. However, the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) – the family drones belong to, has been around for a long time. The first-ever appearance of a UAV can be traced back to 1849 when it was used for a military attack by the Austrians in the Italian city of Venice. Since then, the UAV has undergone several technological advancements, till the modern nature of drones we have now.

Initially, drones were deployed majorly for military purposes. However, with its increasing popularity, many organizations and individuals began seeking to adopt and fully integrate its application into their way of doing business. One of such ways is the introduction of Drone delivery service.

What is a drone delivery service?

A drone delivery is the use of drones in the transportation of packages, food, or other products to customers. The adoption of this service is rapidly growing among industries, companies, and even consumers. However, the retail industry seems to be at the forefront of the integration of this service into business operations, an attempt to satisfy its customers’ increasing hunger for quicker delivery services.

Amazon with the earliest history of drone delivery service

Leading retailer company, Amazon took the first giant step in this regard and has never looked back since then. Seven years ago, in 2013, the founder and CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos’ announced that Amazon was making rapid plans of using flying robots to make delivery of its commercial products. As expected, his announcement was met with some skepticism, and perceived obstacles from critics. Some quickly dismissed it as being just a marketing gimmick, intending to attract the Christmas shoppers. Later that same year, December 2013, Deutsche Post AG parcel service subsidiary DHL carried out a test delivery of medicine using a prototype Microdrones “Parcelcopter”. That move raised Speculation that disaster relief could be the starting point for implementing the technology.

The Drone delivery services have shown potentials. Thus causing Amazon and fellow tech giants like Alphabet and others to make remarkable contributions to the history of the delivery service.

Key Industrial players In Drone Delivery Service History

Domino’s Pizza

Domino’s Pizza Enterprises – an international franchiser of the Domino’s Pizza brand has made remarkable contributions to the history of drone delivery services. In November 2016, Domino Pizza partnered with Flirtey, a drone delivery startup to successfully carryout a first test pizza delivery using a drone at a customer’s door. The order was dropped off at 11:19 a.m. in New Zealand, 25 km north of Auckland. Just so you want to know, the first Drone pizza delivery was an order of Cranberry Pizza, Peri-Peri Chicken Pizza, and a Chicken. Domino Pizza had a team of experts and a drone pilot to monitor and control the Flirtey’s DRU Drone using GPS navigation till it got to the customer’s home and made the delivery. Soon, you could see delivery by drone option when ordering a pizza.

Amazon Prime Air

When Jeff Bezos made his Drone delivery in 2013, it was considered nothing more than a tech joke. However, Amazon Prime Air is quickly becoming not just a reality, but also one of the most promising drone delivery services. In 2019’s Amazon re:MARS conference, the company announced its plan to launch Prime Air – its drone delivery service, “in a matter of months.”  According to Amazon, these drones are designed to be able to carry packages weighing up to five pounds. With these autonomous drones that are guided by GPS systems, Amazon plans to deliver orders to customers within 30 minutes. If achieved, Amazon’s Prime Air delivery program will supersede its two-day Prime shipping delivery, as well as the two-hour Prime Now delivery. In future advancements, Amazon hopes to navigate more tricky urban environments using rooftop lockers, assigned local drone landing sites, or even launches from delivery vehicles nearby.

Alphabet Drone Delivery

In August 2014, Google-parent Company Alphabet announced that it was currently working on producing flying vehicles (drones) for delivering products to consumers. Later that same year, full-swing testing of Wing –Alphabets delivery drone, began in Australia. Since then, Wing has undergone more than 80,000 tests. Wing’s drone is built in the resemblance of a small plane, having two wings, with propellers on each wing (14 propellers in total). This design, according to Alphabet, helps the drone to fly at an improved speed, cutting cost, and conserving energy in the process. The drones are built to carry delivery packages weighing between two to three pounds and deliver to customers’ doorsteps. Alphabet is partnering with Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc and FedEx to operate the Wing’s delivery service.

UPS Drone Delivery

In 2019, UPS (United Parcel Service Inc.) Flight Forward was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate its drone delivery services. Thus making UPS the first-ever commercial airline to operate a commercial drone delivery service. Although the company has autonomy for its drone operations on size and scope, it is currently only operating in suburban and rural regions. UPS teamed up with CVS Pharmacy to begin a medical delivery trial for three years in Raleigh. Indicating the company’s interest is focus on medical product delivery for its initial drone efforts.

Other companies making history in drone delivery service

  • Uber
  • Walmart
  • Workhorse

The Future of Drone Delivery Service

The drone delivery market is the next big thing in commercial product delivery. Currently, it seems the healthcare industry is better positioned than any other industry to begin to reap the immediate results from drone delivery services. They will begin with delivering small package sizes of prescription and medical, not weighing more than 55 pounds (the limited weight given by the FAA). The industry targets to apply drone delivery service in resolving last-mile delivery issues. For tech companies like Amazon and Alphabet, partnership with other major retailers will boost their chances of dominating the commercial drone market. Anything short of that could see Walmart climb ahead of them in the market dominance.

Moving forward, a clear means of communication between drones when the air could need to be established. According to experts, drones currently have no standard for identifying and communicating with each other on-air, unlike airplanes. This means multiple companies cannot operate drone delivery in the same area at the same time. Currently, some companies have more freedom to operate (example, Wing), while others (Uber, and Amazon) have some restrictions.