Climate change and sustainability are never far from the eye of the media, and concerns about our impact on the environment continue to grow year upon year, as global temperatures rise and governments and businesses seek new ways to reduce environmental footprints.
Commercial Delivery Drones
While large military drones are fuelled by internal combustion engines and jet engines like their manned counterparts, smaller drones, particularly those used for civilian applications such as delivery, are typically electrically powered. The increased uptake of small UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) has the potential to contribute greatly towards emission reduction targets and enhanced sustainability in the way we live and work.
Drone Technology Developments
Drone Technology DevelopmentsThe demand for rapid package delivery is constantly on the rise, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic causing a particularly notable spike in growth. With this demand comes a corresponding rise in emissions from delivery vehicles such as trucks, vans, cars, and motorcycles, all traveling from warehouses to local fulfillment centers or performing last-mile delivery. Many of these delivery vehicles still have the edge in terms of being able to transport large numbers of packages at once, but drone technology continues to advance, and large unmanned aircraft that carry significant payloads are currently under development.
Smaller commercial delivery drones have also been trialed for last-mile delivery, launched from trucks to complete the final leg of the journey to the customer’s home or business premises. In addition to cutting down on emissions from the delivery trucks themselves, the convenience of widely-adopted home delivery by drone could reduce the number of people driving to package pickup points or taking trips to the store for just one or two items.
Small drones have also been used for more specialist deliveries, such as the transportation of blood and organs to and from hospitals, and spare parts to vessels and offshore platforms. Emergency and one-off deliveries such as these are perhaps the best application for small drone platforms, as they cannot compete with large manned delivery vehicles in terms of efficient delivery of large volumes of goods.
Currently, many small delivery drones must legally be operated via line-of-sight (LOS), where the end destination is within the visual range of the pilot. This means that after a small number of deliveries, or possibly just a single flight, the pilot must drive to another location in order to conduct the next scheduled delivery. In addition to being inefficient and time-consuming, this means that there is an additional environmental impact from the vehicles being used to transport the drones.
The increased adoption of BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) drone operations will allow delivery drones to fly autonomously from warehouses to the end customer, thus doing away with the need to constantly relocate the drone. While BVLOS delivery flights have been successfully completed over significant distances, the process is still an experimental one, and there are still a number of safety and logistical issues to be worked out before BVLOS drones can be fully adopted into civilian airspace. Many jurisdictions around the world currently authorize BVLOS flights on a case-by-case basis, with a significant application process required in order to be granted a waiver under current aviation regulations.
Having said that, industry players and aviation authorities alike agree that BVLOS is clearly the future of the industry, and once regulatory processes have matured, this will unlock scalable, commercially viable drone delivery operations, as well as a wide variety of other applications. It is only a matter of time before the approval process becomes more straightforward, and drone platform developers beginning to explore BVLOS technologies now will have a leg up on the market once mass adoption occurs.
Whether you are looking to develop an environmentally-friendly drone delivery platform now, or in the future when regulations have become more concrete, one thing is certain. Your drone platform will need a robust communications solution that can handle seamless switching as the aircraft moves through different communications environments, and that will ensure uptime of close to 100%.
Elsight Drone Delivery Communications Platform
Elsight’s Halo is an ideal solution for developers looking to get in on the ground floor of the rapidly advancing drone delivery industry. Utilizing an advanced AI-powered bonding technology, the carrier-agnostic solution aggregates multiple cellular IP links and constantly monitors for compromised channels, automatically rerouting to the most suitable channel for the drone’s specific communications requirements. Halo is compact and lightweight and easily integrated into a variety of unmanned aircraft designs. The low power consumption of the technology also helps lower the energy footprint of the drone system and drives sustainability.
Elsight also offers a personalized Smart Start program that allows partners to take advantage of a step-by-step onboarding and training process that will accelerate the development of a BVLOS drone platform utilizing the Halo connectivity solution. We provide clients with the benefit of our deep experience in long-range drone communications, allowing them to get off the ground and ahead of the competition. To find out more about Halo or our Value Investment Program (VIP), please get in touch!
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