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Why drones won’t replace parcel deliverers

Increasingly, the use of drones is viewed with fear. Indeed, many people fear that many jobs will be lost due to the use of drones. So too in the parcel industry. Now, we ourselves are not in the business of delivering packages door-to-door. We specialize in urgent transportation throughout Europe. But of course I can have a view on it.

It is indeed true that you can attach a package to a drone and program it to land in a certain place. This requires someone at the unloading site waiting for the drone to accept the package. The key here is that he/she can only accept the package from the drone if the recipient is actually the addressee. So this must be controlled somehow. Technical resources are already available for this. You can enter a code or scan a QR code etc. Also, options have already been developed to place some sort of package box that is recognized by the drone and in which the package in question can be placed. I can so imagine that you can prove that a shipment was delivered in such a box but of course that is still not really a signature for receipt. Of course, a natural person is not going to stand guard all day and wait for “his” drone to finally arrive. So using such a box seems to be the best option for that. However, that would also mean that everyone who wants to receive a package by drone (especially if one is often absent) should have such a package box. That’s quite a few boxes to be placed. And how many packages can go in such a box ?

Additional technical drawback, which in itself is likely to be overcome, is the weight of a package that can be delivered by a drone. In my opinion, at 5 kg you are already pretty much at the maximum at this point. In my opinion, however, that is only a matter of time.

Another issue is how many drones it would take to replace 1 package deliverer. If we assume that a package deliverer delivers 100 addresses (usually more) in a day, 100 packages should also be delivered by drone. However, a drone can currently carry and deliver only 1 or 2 packages. Then he must return to base to pick up the next package. However, the package deliverer simply goes to the next address and will be there within minutes. So that means a drone takes much longer to deliver 100 packages. Or multiple drones must be used. Given that people still want to receive their packages within a certain time window, it will therefore come down to the deployment of multiple drones to replace 1 package deliverer. Now in our town, in the center of Heerlen, I see fairly often, various parcel delivery companies of various parcel services driving their vans through the streets. So if these package deliverers all have to be replaced by multiple drones, you get a whole swarm of drones flying back and forth to get rid of their cargo. Imagine what that streetscape will look like. Besides, drones are not exactly noiseless so that would probably sound like you are constantly standing in a huge swarm of flies.

There is also the question of what happens if the drone falls out of the sky due to a technical defect. First of all, getting hit by a crashing drone doesn’t really strike me as nice, but having a drone with a package attached to it lying unattended in the street isn’t really the idea either. Anyone can then take the thing including package. Of course, a package deliverer can also have car trouble but then there is always someone at the packages can keep an eye on them.

Drones will certainly be used in logistics. For example, on a trial basis, a sort of scheduled service between laboratories in Switzerland was recently established. However, I don’t think drones are going to replace the package deliverer. By the way, there are other ways to use fewer package deliverers. More on that later.

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