Will COVID-19 quicken drone delivery’s flight to retail?
In recent years, articles on drones have been filled with complaints about their noise, spying capacity and threat to planes. In the last few months, they’ve been hailed as heroes amid the pandemic.
In China and many European countries, drones have been reminding people to stay indoors and wear masks. In many more places, drones have been disinfecting public areas and buildings with a spraying capacity significantly higher than traditional methods.
Drones in China with thermal cameras have performed temperature checks so that humans can avoid the risks of conducting the tests.
Finally, drones have been speedily delivering tests and blood samples to frontline health workers. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been granting exemptions for COVID-related reasons.
Proponents believe the use of drones in emergency situations will increase the public’s awareness about the technology’s benefits and reduce anxiety about its use.
“This is the moment when the drone industry gets to show what it can do,” Miriam McNabb, editor of Dronelife, a news site, told the New York Times.
For retailers, delivery is one area gaining some traction.
In early May, CVS in a partnership with UPS began providing drone-delivered prescription medicine to Florida’s largest retirement community, The Villages.
Last October, Alphabet-owned Wing Aviation began the first-ever commercial drone delivery pilot program in Christiansburg, VA and the service now supports deliveries from a local Walgreens, FedEx and three small businesses.
Uber, which is working with McDonald’s to test drone delivery in San Diego, has said its drones will deliver three times faster than bikes or cars at roughly the same cost as regular UberEats deliveries.
Speaking to TechRepublic, Yariv Bash, CEO of FlyTrex, an Israeli-based drone delivery startup, said he believes the U.S. drone industry is “near the end of a very long regulatory process,” with COVID-19 showcasing the potential of the technology.
“Nobody’s willing to take any bit off the level of safety that we have to adhere to,” said Mr. Bash. “But from what we’re seeing in the past two months, regulators like the FAA are willing to push forward a lot faster than they did before.”
- The Drones Were Ready for This Moment – The New York Times
- DJI Helps Fight Coronavirus With Drones – DJI
- Drone Delivery Increases In Christiansburg – Virginia Department of Aviation
- How drones have helped fight COVID-19 — and become more mainstream – Drone DJ
- Demand for drone deliveries reaches new heights during COVID-19 – TechRepublic
- Can drones help win the fight against coronavirus? – The Telegraph
- Drones Stepping up Fight Against COVID-19, Says GlobalData – AIT News Desk
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will increased activations during COVID-19 help speed up the adoption of drones for delivery and other retail purposes? What do you see helping or hindering their usage?