The e-commerce industry has been talking about drone deliveries for a long time and we've been covering the development of drone fulfilment services on this blog!
But now the reality of using drones for e-commerce deliveries looks closer than ever, as the world's first ever successful drone delivery was made in the United States this week. So what does this first delivery mean for the future of drones in the US and across the world? And will they be used as e-commerce fulfilment services any time soon?
Although many people are focusing on the facts of the delivery itself, there is another element of this event which may have more of a bearing on the future of worldwide drone delivery services. For some time, drone developers and the e-commerce industry have been battling with the United States Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), which has been trying to regulate and control the use of drones in US airspace. However, the battle looks to be over, as the completed drone delivery made this week was itself sponsored by the FAA, signalling that they are finally ready to authorise the use of drones in certain areas. Manufactured by Australian company Flirtey, the drone made a 30 minute flight from Lonesome Pine Airport, Virginia to deliver medical supplies to a medical clinic in rural Wise Country Fairground.
So what does this successful flight mean for the future of drone deliveries? The manufacturers of the drone, plus many people in the e-commerce industry, are hailing the successful delivery as proof that unmanned delivery vehicles can be used without issue, and would be particularly useful in reaching outlying or rural areas in emergency situations. However, although the flight was sponsored by the FAA, the Aviation Authority has been reluctant to say whether flights of this kind would be allowed on a commercial scale any time in the near future. At present, in both the US and the UK, there are restrictions on using drones where there would be interaction with humans - meaning e-commerce fulfilment via drone is still a long way off - but many are suggesting that this should be reviewed in the near future.