Delivery drones (UAVs): the various drop-off methods that change the world

The world of commercial UAVs is getting better and better equipped every day to make autonomous delivery operational quality service.

Nowadays, the vast growth of the e-commerce market focus on cargo transport and supply chain solutions. Customer demands arrive stochastically: the financial or ecological cost of the last mile is increasingly heavy to bear. UAVs seem to provide an increasingly socially accepted response as a means of delivery. The next step is to find the right infrastructure to support drone delivery: this starts with the methods of delivery.

The stand-alone delivery is already operational. The world of transportation has not been disrupted since 1900.

The Delivery involves loading and storage of goods. From luxurious to medical delivery, the service holds various vocations and therefore the method fit the operation’s standard.

Sill, for each method that follows: it is important to show the trade-off between financial and ecological costs and quality of service. The depot style is the subject of a long-term decision. The system is integrated into urban maps and does not change as quickly as the number of UAVs in circulation. The implementation of the system (number of depots and vehicles) determines its viability.

The criteria took into account for this analysis are the flexibility and security of the system, its ease of implementation, and the mores/habituation of the population; because we accommodate better to changes that we understand.

Here is an overview of the filing methods that exist today at your grip 🚀 :

1. Delivery terminal: corresponds to the mailbox principle. The frugal system that adapts to the existing environment, increases security via tagging, and facilitates loading.

This method is perfectly suited to an environment with developed infrastructures and in urban/suburban areas. The goods are available in fixed location depots. The carbon footprint of the system is low. Its price is yet to be defined, but it is certain that this method is more expensive at the start of the project than manual unloading for commercial operators.

2. Manual package unloading: an operator retrieves the package directly from the UAV.
This method is not very recommended in view of the risk to the safety of the customer and the UAV. Mainly used for test purposes, because it is inexpensive to set up, this method does not seem viable for an urban environment. However, it is still very much in use today and reflects a more marketing use of autonomous delivery to date than a real last-mile logistics solution envisaged by the companies.

3. Parcel drop with a parachute: a method that won awards in the first pharmaceutical deliveries, this method, however, is costly and not very accurate.

This method is conducive to an unstructured environment with no guaranty to install delivery terminals. Collection and delivery locations are established on a continuous spatial distribution basis and goods are not stored in fixed depots. It is imperative and binding that the customer is present.

4. Rope delivery system: rope and pulley delivery system.

Today used by many actors for its ease of installation, this system is doomed to be legally prohibited for lack of security. In a hectic or emergency environment, maritime, mountainous, or extreme flying conditions; this ideal and inexpensive first-impression method will no longer be feasible, given the risk of UAV stalls.

5. Net: the net is placed at the reception area and cushions the cargo.

This method is similar to the delivery terminal. It has the advantage of being inexpensive but is only applicable to remote and spacious environments. It would require maintenance at the reception area and it is hardly possible to store the goods in the net as a fixed deposit.

6. Deposit of the parcel on the landing zone: the operator picks up the parcel on the landing zone.

This technique, which is more successful than manual unloading of the package, requires additional costs to ensure the maintenance of the landing zone. However, this method brings cohesion to the local community in order to adhere to the service. Small towns or villages could benefit from a common space to group their parcels. Easy to implement and less costly than some other methods, it allows for the flexibility of home delivery and could be adopted in semi-rural/rural areas that do not benefit from modern infrastructure to accommodate current logistics services.

7. Synchronized depot truck: the truck transports UAVs to a launch point and then serves customers at a given point. Finally, the drones return, land on the truck, and finally the truck returns to the warehouse.

The delivery truck and the heterogeneous fleet of UAVs coordinate to deliver small packages to customers geographically distributed in a space. However, this method seems feasible only with further technological development. Only an increased level of automation can accomplish this procedure.

To deliver, UAVs can have varying travel speeds, load capacities, service lives and flight endurance limits to meet different needs.

The truck deprives the provider of this flexibility. As companies are expected to operate increasingly heterogeneous fleets, model variants of the evolving automated UAV launch and recovery systems (at the depot or in the truck) would also need to be reworked as UAV fleets evolve. Truck concepts appear too small to allow the safe simultaneous landing or launch of multiple UAVs. Some research explicitly queues UAVs during the launch and recovery phases. This additional programming problem adds to the complexity of the system, but more accurately reflects the limitations associated with deploying multiple UAVs from a relatively small space.

7 Bis. Without synchronization: the truck makes its normal journey and then the UAV goes back and forth between the depot truck and the customers’ location.

After the delivery, the drone must return to the vehicle. The movement of the truck and the uncertainty of the recipient’s pick-up time will considerably reduce the efficiency of autonomous delivery. This also applies to delivery with UAVs and truck synchronization.

To conclude,

All its methods are already in use. Even if the UAV network has to be set up, it is relevant to reflect on the existing means of implementing the UAV in order to understand its development in a frugal way.

A frugal model of autonomous delivery.

While working on the different delivery methods, it seemed obvious to us that some of them would be preferred, depending on the geographical area studied the fears, risks, expectations, and cultures of the economic players in the region, or even on their financial capacity and the degree of flexibility of the expected service.

🎯🔊ET YOU? How would you like to receive your parcels tomorrow? Leave your ideas as comments!

An idea, a desire? Join us!



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store



Drones delivery company here to built a better futur and give some insight of it.