You’ve probably heard of the use of drones for deliveries, mostly on Amazon’s account . However, its functionality goes far beyond the idea of receiving, at the door of the house, a pizza left by one of these vehicles.
In the 12th edition of Campus Party , which ended last Saturday (16), several other applications were discussed for deliveries by unmanned aircraft. In fact, long before the average public receives any order at home, the drones will already be flying around delivering things in other areas.
The industry is expected to be the first and largest beneficiary of delivery drones, according to experts.
In addition to the diversity of applications and the increased investment, industrial use also comes out ahead for another reason: regulation. There are currently restrictions on the use of drones in urban centers for safety reasons.
The enormous amount of people in the metropolises, the excess of constructions, and the circulation of other vehicles still generate insecurity in the authorities that command the airspace.
“Regulation is being pushed by the advancement of technology,” said Emerson Granemann, director of MundoGeo and organizer of DroneShow, a drone show held annually in São Paulo.
While the legislation does not advance, in the opposite direction, industries benefit from the versatility of the drones and already have use permitted here in Brazil.
The biggest advantage is having large terrain, with air traffic and reduced traffic, leaving the environment safer.
In this case, unmanned aircraft can be used to optimize logistics, transporting parts between sheds, and, for example, avoiding machines being idle unnecessarily.
“In oil companies, instead of carrying a 1 kg piece of helicopter between the platforms, it will be possible to deliver using a drone,” says Samuel Salomão, founder of SMX, a Brazilian company specializing in drone transport.
Cost is another very relevant issue. According to consultant NewtonX, the cost of an 8-km delivery is $ 13 with a bike, $ 10 with a car and $ .80 with drone. The latter figure is still expected to fall by half by 2025.
Until then, the drones must have become popular. “From next year we should already have private application in the cities,” says Solomon.
Race against time
According to experts, the main advantage of drones is agility. While car or motorcycle take hours to cross a city in peak hours, the aircraft can do this in minutes.
In many cases, more minutes in a delivery can be the difference between life and death. Therefore, another application that should become popular is in the area of health, with transportation of medicines, vaccines and even blood.
This is the case of Zipline, an American company operating in Rwanda and Ghana, both countries in Africa. Using drones, the company transports medical supplies to places where it is virtually impossible to get there quickly with another type of vehicle.
Since 2016, approximately 10,000 deliveries have been made, covering more than 1 million km. According to the company, the average delivery time is 30 minutes, compared to 5 hours a truck would take to perform the same service.
In Brazil, SMX, a company from Solomon, has already made more than 30 drug deliveries using drones in the interior of São Paulo. The first one was in August of last year.
The next step for Solomon is to begin testing in areas with greater geographical challenges, such as the transposition of rivers and islands. “At present, deliveries to large cities are not possible by regulation. We are accumulating hours of flight inside, proving that it is safe,” he said.
Drones will be complementary
With so many uses, there may be a fear that drivers and delivery people will lose their jobs, and cars, motorcycles and SUVs will no longer be used.
“We will not boycott cars and motorcycles,” said Pedro Curcio, director of a delivery company that uses motorcycles and commercial vehicles, but has already planned to use drones for the next few years.
Curcio’s speech shows that delivery drones will not replace other types of manners. They will be complementary, since the distances and size of orders are often incompatible with aircraft.
Even if it does not completely replace conventional means of transport, the removal of vehicles from the streets will be inevitable. “The use of drones in the cities will help to ease the traffic,” commented Solomon.
Asked if the change in delivery mode could cause layoffs between drivers and deliverers, Curcio was emphatic. “Let’s turn the driver into a drone operator.”