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Forget about delivery trucks or couriers coming to your door on their bicycles. Forget even about cargo boats or planes filled with boxes with your next purchase. It’s time to welcome the latest trend in delivery (and perhaps more): the drone delivery pads. Wait. Aren’t drones for travel bloggers? And for aerial shots? Of course, they are.
But, now, these tiny, buzzing devices are for more. More than looking cool on Instagram. They are the next and latest frontier of transportation and delivery businesses, fast and faster. Thanks to landing pads and tech experts, these drones are made for e-commerce. Still, they can be useful in more and different industries.

What are drone delivery pads?

They are non-military or leisure drones. These devices have a weight capacity of up to three lbs and are over two feet in height. That is, for now, since this innovation is expanding and evolving every day. Their biggest limit is the battery’s life, but companies are working on solving this issue. Drone delivery pads are especially useful in urban and crowded areas, where traffic becomes an obstacle to fast and punctual deliveries. Drones fly, so there are no stoplights or cars speeding.

Amazon leading the way

While online shopping isn’t the only industry to benefit from this invention, it’s the main one profiting from it -at least right now. Obviously enough, the retail giant Amazon is at the forefront of this movement. In fact, the company launched its Prime Air service in 2016. The packages weighed up to five pounds and the delivery took 30 minutes.
Of course, safety was the main concern. With research, time, and developments, Amazon’s flying fleet even received the Part 135 Air Carrier Certificate from the United States Federal Aviation Administration. What does it mean? It’s the recognition of the company’s effort to fly drones safely, both for the devices and the final customers.
The next step in this tech future of delivery is the radar landing pads. Amazon is working on placing radars at the landing sites to send signals to the drones. This way, the flying device will know where to land and what to avoid – trees and people included. Another way to avoid crashes and obstacles is are image-based codes. Both changes are fundamental to ensure deliveries don’t crush on anything – or anyone. Still, Amazon isn’t the only company using drone delivery pads.

The uses of drone delivery pads

For example, Manna specializes in this business. Based in Ireland and Wales, Manna offers three-minute delivery.
“We’re delivering coffees,” Manna CEO Bobby Healy said in an episode of the TechFirst podcast, “we’re delivering burgers and fries. We’re delivering ice cream, broccoli, melon, you name it, we’re delivering it. And it arrives perfect, you know, piping hot coffee, foam intact, little design on top of the foam still intact.”
As Healy reported, the company makes up to 3,000 flights every day. Its fleet reaches a speed of 50 miles an hour and an altitude of almost 200 feet. When it reaches the customer’s home, the device scans the surrounding area to find a safe spot to land. The next step for Manna is the expansion in Europe – and hopefully the USA.
In India, drone delivery pads are already a reality. But they don’t deliver coffee. Instead, they deliver Covid-19 vaccines. While it’s a trial program, it’s a promising one. It’s called  “Medicine from the Sky” and it’s happening thanks to the partnership between private companies like Blue Dart and the government of the state Telangana.
“This move is in sync with our endeavors at the transformational change in rural and remote areas by helping make instant access to vital medical supplies,” said Skye Air Mobility Co-founder Swapnik Jakkampundi.
The biggest challenge to these drones? Regulations, especially in the USA. Still, the future is bright.

Why it matters

Customers want their orders and they want them fast – faster. And traffic isn’t helping deliveries in crowded areas. Just like deliveries in remote places are as complicated. The solution? Flying a drone carrying boxes or orders and people’s desires. While companies still have to figure out landings and regulations, businesses like Manna already prove that this system is working. Customer satisfaction 101.
Mike Rubini

Written by

Mike Rubini

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