Delivery drones are an extremely interesting topic in modern unmanned aerial vehicle technology. Moving products from one area to another is a lot easier in the air than on the ground and the small size of the average drone enables these devices to get items where they need to go in an efficient manner.
To that end, where are we right now in terms of drone delivery, and where is the trend going?
7-Eleven beats Amazon …
Most people following the latest technology trends know that Amazon has been extremely interested in delivery drones. The online retailer has even stated that its end-goal is to be able to deliver products to its customers in the space of around 30 minutes, according to CNET contributor Katie Collins. However, while Amazon was fine-tuning its drone plans, 7-Eleven was figuring out its own delivery system.
"The first 7-Eleven drone delivery has already taken place."
In fact, the convenience store chain has decided to partner with Flirtey, a tech startup that will be creating drones and related software for 7-Eleven. TechCrunch's Lora Kolodny reported that the first 7-Eleven drone delivery has already taken place. The contents of the package included hot coffee and an ice-cold Slurpee, which means Flirtey has created a drone that can ensure a wide range of temperature needs.
Although it may seem strange for 7-Eleven to get into the drone delivery game, such a move isn't surprising if you think about the nature of the business. 7-Eleven is all about convenience, and what's more convenient than having your favorite snacks flown directly to you? While it's clear 7-Eleven will most likely never close its physical locations to focus on delivery, this new market could allow for some intense financial growth in the years to come.
… but Amazon has some recharging tricks up its sleeve
Even though Amazon wasn't the first to implement a drone delivery solution, its certainly trying its hardest to create the best one. Specifically, the company is working to solve one of the biggest problems currently facing the sector: battery life.
Basically, drones can't be relied upon for longer trips due to the limitations of current battery technology. If a human delivery driver runs out of gas in the middle of nowhere, he at least has the ability to call for help or flag down another driver. A drone, on the other hand, would become entirely helpless if its battery were to expire during the course of its daily operations.
So what's the solution to this? Charging stations, of course. But the docks currently being thought up by Amazon engineers are much more interesting than simple wall outlets. ZDNet's Kelly McSweeney stated that Amazon has recently had a patent approved that would allow the company to implement docking stations in new or existing structures. Everything from light poles to cell towers could be used to charge Amazon's drones, which would seriously increase the company's delivery range.
However, current regulations might stand in the way of this development. Stephanie Condon of ZDNet reported that FAA regulations prohibit drones to be flown out of sight of the pilot. While this law will certainly help keep newer drone owners from damaging property, it would also keep Amazon from flying its drones far enough away to require charging.
Clearly, the world of drone delivery services is going to see some major breakthroughs in the years to come. In fact, the entire world of UAV could see a major spike in popularity. As such, the skills of currently experienced pilots is going to come in handy in order to introduce novices. If you'd like to spread the knowledge you've gained involving yourself in this awesome holiday while also making some money, check out 500 Below's drone training program.