Home>Industry Sector>Chemicals & Pharma>Drone deliveries to homes not likely despite new Government initiative
Home>Industry Sector>Distribution>Drone deliveries to homes not likely despite new Government initiative
Home>Industry Sector>Food & drink>Drone deliveries to homes not likely despite new Government initiative

Drone deliveries to homes not likely despite new Government initiative

30 April 2020

The Drone Delivery Group welcomed a drone testing initiative unveiled by the Department for Transport.

The initiative seeks to find a fast way to deliver medicines and supplies via air drones, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Robert Garbett, founder of Drone Major Group said: “This will open the way to accelerated growth of the UK drone industry,  but it will require facing up to the myths and mistakes of public perception of what is possible, and the reality of how best to apply this fast-developing technology.

“In most people’s vision of drone delivery, there is an image of thousands of small air drones with parcels hanging from them being delivered to virtually every home in the Kingdom... but this would be the least practical and least achievable application.

“The issues associated with implementing such a concept for widespread household delivery are huge, for instance safety, security and the need for expensive infrastructure to make widespread use practical even in the medium term.”

Garbett says the following applications are more realistic.

• Mid-mile delivery – the bulk transportation of cargo from storage hub to storage hub, or from airport to storage hub for onward delivery to increase capacity into remote and hard to reach areas or during emergencies, (such as the delivery of medicines and supplies during the current pandemic) or where access is temporarily restricted. 

• Limited last-mile delivery - the delivery of items between locations where rapid delivery will save or significantly improve quality of life, such as medical supplies, medicines, organs and blood between or to hospitals.

• Industrial delivery applications – the movement of cargo and assets around industrial and transportation locations such as refineries, airports, or large logistics locations and smaller internal delivery operations for the delivery of mail, spares or tooling.  

• Blue light support – the movement of supplies and equipment in support of blue light operations such as accident and traffic management, crime scene management and terrorist or public safety incident handling. 

Garbett adds applications will widen to allow limited scenarios such as the delivery of: 

• Critical items such as medication to seriously ill patients who have the right equipment installed to facilitate such a delivery. 

• Spares and tools by air drone to the field repair unit who are undertaking critical repairs such as a leaking gas main or water main rupture or those undertaking time sensitive repairs to transport infrastructure. 

• Supplies to remote locations such as lighthouses, individuals or small groups of residents who are extremely difficult to access 

• Parcels to local collection points for collection by residents in housing developments.

On Friday 24 April 2020, the Rt Hon Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, announced that drones will be used to carry medical supplies from Hampshire to the Isle of Wight, confirming that a planned trial of the technology would be brought forward to begin next week. 

The Department for Transport said the drone would fly autonomously along a fixed route between Lee-on-the-Solent in Hampshire and Binstead on the Isle of Wight. Two safety pilots - one at each airfield - will oversee each flight. However, the trial cannot start until the route has been approved by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and permission granted.