In every industry, new technologies continue to develop that we think, and that sometimes even do, replace the humans who used to do that job. In the delivery business, one of the hot topics in recent years is – Drone. However, there are exceptions to that rule. In the logistics industry, we have seen Amazon (even though it was already 4 years ago!) and others experiment with package delivering drones. Should FedEx route owners be worried about drones?
It’s a complicated answer, but the simplest thing to say is “no.” A fleet of drones will not be replacing trucks anytime soon. Here are some of the reasons why there is no need to worry about that happening.
Drones are cool for taking photos and video, and they actually work really well for those purposes. There is definitely disruption happening in those industries. However, when it comes to package delivery, drones have their limitations.
The first is that most of them can only carry packages that weigh up to 5 pounds, maybe eight at a stretch. And they can only carry one package at a time. That makes for an extremely expensive delivery. Imagine sending one of your drivers out with only one package to deliver, and then bringing them back to get another one.
It’s just not practical for bulk deliveries.
For drones to fly and be safe, the weather has to be pretty ideal. Light winds, little to no precipitation, and other conditions must be met. The problem with that is most of the country does not have ideal weather most of the time. There would be large blocks of time when drone delivery would be impossible.
The reality is, people expect their packages to be delivered almost regardless of the weather conditions barring catastrophic circumstances. This is what FedEx route owners and their drivers do, and it is something drones cannot satisfy.
The Need for Pilots
At least so far, drones cannot be 100% automated. Without pilot oversight, they are simply not safe. Think of the cost of a $10,000 drone that clipped a power or telephone line it did not “see” when delivering a single five-pound package, and crashing? The cost could be enormous.
There are other considerations, like package placement, pets, and other obstacles that have not yet been anticipated or overcome. Without an active pilot watching where the drone is going and directing it, there are many potential hazards. This is something that, as autonomous driving cars are perfected, can be improved, but not something that will overcome the other issues with drone delivery.
Regulatory Issues on Drone
Much of the testing of drone delivery has been done in the UK or on very short routes in the United States. The simple reason is regulation. Even private drones over a certain size have flight restrictions and licensing requirements from the FAA. Most must still be within sight of the pilot at all times, limiting drone range.
Many areas also do not allow drone flights near them at all, and understandably so due to security concerns. These include common sense areas like airports and other “no fly” zones, but also around Federal buildings, other government facilities, banks, congested downtown areas (where drones would arguably be most effective) and other public locations.
These regulations will likely evolve over time, but it is likely they will get stricter rather than more relaxed, and the authorization of autonomous drones will be even longer in waiting for approval.
Security and Drones
Not only are where drones fly a security concern, but the drones themselves present various issues. If intercepted, a thief would not only have possession of the payload of the drone, but the drone itself. While most would be equipped with fail safes, if those could somehow be overridden, the drone itself could bring its own security concerns.
The most vulnerable time for a drone would be during the landing and actual delivery of packages. This poses potential security concerns for home owners as well.
Finally, if drones could be hacked and redirected, entirely new methods of theft could be created. One of the primary obstacles to active drone delivery on a regular basis is security of both the packages delivered and the drone itself.
The Bottom Line When it comes to Drone
While many may be able to envision a future where the sky is filled with drones, that future is still a long way off, and may never come. Even if it does, the likelihood that those drones will be able to replace delivery routes for packages is nearly impossible to imagine on a practical scale.
So FedEx route drivers need not be worried about that future at all. However, drones might be useful for taking overhead video or photos of your next ski vacation, if you’re in to that kind of thing.
Want to know more about FedEx routes and the possibility of owning your own? Contact us here at Route Advisors. We’d love to help you find the right route for you in your area. To learn more about FedEx route insights, visit our Blog Posts!