We can all share the need to increase sustainable mobility. In some activities and areas this process may be easier and faster and in others slower and more complicated. In addition, in general, the improvements will be produced by the combination of several factors that, together, will provide the final component of sustainable mobility.

If we focus on logistics as a very important part of what we have been calling urban mobility, initiatives to introduce sustainable practices run counter to consumer market trends, making it more difficult for the final result to evolve adequately towards the proposed objectives.

What are the benefits of more sustainable logistics? First of all, a better air quality and less polluted. Secondly, a decrease in road traffic and improvement in travel times in cities and, thirdly, and very importantly, an improvement in the image of companies committed to sustainability. Additionally, not all the benefits are internal to the logistics process itself, but we can add that last-mile deliveries can greatly improve their efficiency if autonomous vehicles are used for delivery, such as the use of drones. In this way, we not only improve the quality of life in cities, but also produce improvements in the efficiency of the logistics chain itself.

Global consumer trends are clear. A large part wants deliveries to be made without additional cost, increasing the cases of same-day deliveries. And these trends do not stop growing. But the reality is that failed home deliveries range between 10% and 15%, according to data from the report The Future of Last Mile Logistics, prepared by the consulting firm Deloitte, which implies that the delivery vehicle, as vans have to make a second or third trip to finish the delivery or the customer has to travel, round trip, to a warehouse to pick up their purchase. In these cases, emissions can be multiplied by four. The question we ask ourselves is why we don’t introduce new forms of delivery such as the use of drones?

UAVs are increasingly seen as a future mode of transportation (why not speed up their use) for a wide variety of applications in the logistics industry. Drones are expected to provide several advantages over conventional vehicles, such as a high and constant travel speed, not requiring a physical road infrastructure, and helping to reduce surface traffic congestion. In light of the trends we mentioned, the rapid growth of direct e-commerce deliveries and increasing levels of density and congestion, these benefits of drone-based delivery are particularly evident in urban settings. On the other hand, the isolated and sometimes poorly communicated areas of the peripheries and rural areas, with limited availability of resources for improvements in terrestrial communications, have led to cases of use of drones for the rural distribution of packages, especially for medical supplies and emergency supplies.

It is essential to recognize that the widespread adoption of drone delivery services will require continued advances in technology, supportive regulatory frameworks, and increased investment in renewable energy infrastructure.

There are several factors that need to be overcome before we can consider drone operations possible to implement last-mile delivery of goods. Perhaps a relevant consideration is how to manage drone operations in the context of Urban Air Mobility. From different forums, organizations and entities, solutions and ways of approaching the management of low-level airspace are being proposed. From our point of view, the fully automated operation of drones should be considered from the beginning as a valid solution. The technology is available and advances in autonomous operations can be implemented in a short time with full guarantees of safety and efficiency.

In conclusion, the drone delivery service represents a fundamental step in the continuous search to mitigate the environmental impact of the last mile transportation industry. By embracing this cutting-edge technology and addressing the challenges and constraints we face today, we can pave the way for a cleaner, more efficient, and socially responsible future for shipping and logistics.

Embedded in the concept of drone delivery is sophisticated technology that enables UAVs to navigate autonomously, maintain stable flight, and accurately deliver packages to their intended destinations. Equipped with advanced sensors, GPS systems, and real-time communication capabilities, drones can transport packages of different sizes and weights safely and efficiently. As technology matures and regulatory frameworks adapt, drone delivery will become a critical component of the future of transportation and logistics, offering numerous benefits in terms of sustainability, speed, and accessibility.

The developments, although continuous, are not linear and present jumps, some disruptive, since the combination of technologies and systems create interweavings in complex ways that reinforce their progress and innovation. This raises new questions. Which innovative and delivery technologies should be prioritized over each other within the supply chain? Which city regulation interventions offer the maximum social benefit impact? What will be the role of data and advanced analytics in the future?

In sum, last mile management is a complex and intertwined issue, as it involves many different ecosystem actors. It must be recognized that there is no single innovative solution, so it is necessary to address the last-mile logistics problem jointly, systemically, and with coordinated actions among all the participants in the chain, both public and private. Perhaps in the joint work of all we will achieve a close collaboration oriented towards final objectives that are applicable and socially accepted.

In the same way that there are companies that have decided to introduce only sustainable products in their inputs and manufacturing, companies also decide to carry out sustainable logistics through the use of drones. For this reason, why not, “better, send me a drone!”.

Pablo Morera



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