Drones – the unmanned future of logistics?

Friday, September 5, 2014 - 09:08
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The future?

42% of logistics operators believe their business will utilise Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for the distribution of cargo within 15 years

New research commissioned by the National Aeronautical Centre (NAC) has revealed that 42% of logistics carriers believe their business plans to use Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAVs) for the distribution of cargo in future.

With fuel prices identified as one of the most important perceived risks facing the logistics industry, combined with predicted strong growth in international freight volumes, UAVs may provide cost savings for logistics companies in the long term, as it is anticipated that fuel requirements for UAVs will be lower than for conventional aircraft.

The research also reveals over a third (36%) of freight forwarders believe UAVs will be used for the future distribution of cargo. While huge volumes of cargo are currently still transported on passenger aircraft, the cost of this transportation method may see companies investigating alternative solutions such as UAVs in future.

Companies surveyed across the freight and logistics industry that believe their firm will use UAVs for cargo distribution are ambitious in their timescales. On average, companies believed they would witness the introduction of these solutions for commercial application within the next 15 years.

However, the NAC’s findings also reveal that the highest ranking concern from logistics firms and freight forwarders was that UAVs would not be able to transport sufficient tonnage to replace manned marine and air freight distribution solutions.

Ray Mann, Managing Director of West Wales Airport and architect of the NAC, said: “This research shows that there is identified, tangible demand in the marketplace for UAVs capable of facilitating the transportation of goods with significant tonnage internationally. The challenge for those involved in the design, manufacture and testing of UAVs is to leverage this demand to help secure the required resource investment to ensure the delivery of commercially viable applications.

With heavyhitting retailers and tech companies such as Amazon and Google entrenched in research and development on how to utilise drone technology for delivery purposes, do you think it is the future of logistics? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below

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