Can you see it? The little delivery machine, bringing the things that your town needs the most right now. Drones are taking over small-parcel deliveries, and though these developments don't seem like a huge deal for everyone, this technology is incredible for rural towns and islands.
The island of Juist, a small German coastal island in the North Sea, started seeing a yellow delivery drone bring its most needed items just over a year ago. The 2,000 citizens of Juist place their orders at the pharmacy, and deliveries are made according to the best possible way of transportation; the drone is used when scheduled ferries or manned flights are not available.
DHL launched their 'parcelcopter' research project in 2013, and a short 9 months later they had already begun shipping to Juist. In order to keep within the laws, the drone they created flies under 50m in height to stay out of regulated air-traffic corridors, and is always monitored by a ground station on the mainland. Though the drone is on a fully automated route, the constant monitor is for safety emergencies and for liasons with air-traffic control. This all happened last year.
Earlier this year, the United States successfully delivered 24 medical packages from Lonesome Pine Airport in Virginia, to a clinic in the Wise County Fairgrounds, almost 4km away. This drone, made by an Australian company called Flirtey, flew from the airport to the clinic three times to make these deliveries, each trip taking about 3 minutes.
Just this week, Singapore successfully completed their first delivery through the Singpost Alpha Drone, which is considered a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle). Singpost, the Singaporean postal service, developed an experimental platform that the drone uses together with the open source Pixhawk Steadidrone platform.
"This drone technology is tailored for use in dense urban landscapes. It is energy-efficient and reduces carbon footprint as it is fully battery-operated," - Dr Bernard Leong, head of digital services at SingPost
Though the Alpha Drone is limited to flying 45ft in height and 2.3km in distance, it is tailored for navigating through dense urban population. This drone is energy-efficient and is fully battery-operated.
Drone technology can affect commercial industries and change the game entirely, though of course there is still a long way to go before it becomes the norm. With restrictions and air traffic and safety laws, each country will need to find where drone technology will fit in and benefit their cities and economies the most; green technology and electric-powered vehicles, manned or unmanned, are still developing. Slowly but surely, we are getting there.