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International Forwarding Association Blog » News » Drones Are about to Change the World of Logistics
Drones have applications in small shipments

Drones Are about to Change the World of Logistics

Today, drone delivery is handy for locations with poor infrastructure and shipments that would otherwise incur significant costs. For many, drones or unmanned aerial devices are soon to become a preferred transportation method in a world of rising population, mass movement to larger cities, and growing urbanization. The result of all this is air pollution, congestion, and shipping delays.

Applications

Drones have applications in small shipments and postal delivery, food delivery, and healthcare. They can be used to ship perishable goods and products with a short shelf life. In fact, they have already been used to deliver drinks, cocktails, and pizzas.

Drones can also deliver medical samples, vaccines, and medications, especially in remote locations that are difficult to access most of the year. Drones have also been tested for mail delivery by postal services in Germany, Switzerland, and other countries. They can be used for high priority shipments, emergency relief supplies, and deliveries to hard-to-reach locations.

Drones can also be used for shipments by rail, and the main goal is to improve efficiency and avoid delivery delays. When the train is approaching delivery locations, drones onboard will be set to distribute parcels. Drones equipped with on-demand delivery software allow freight forwarders to track location.

Known as last mile delivery, the software can also be used for medicine and retail delivery, food and beverage, and parcel delivery. The system allows companies to track performance, schedule dispatching, and optimize operations. The goal is to improve transparency and efficiency, minimize operational costs, and reduce turnaround time.

Drones about Logistics

Photo: https://www.unmannedairspace.info

 

Capabilities

There are drones that can ship cargo of up to 2 kg, maintain 70 km/h average speed, and can fly over a distance of about 8 km. Unmanned aerial devices are also equipped with a sonar, depth cameras, and thermal cameras to identify obstacles and potential hazards. Some drones also feature machine learning capabilities and computer vision to identify moving objects as well as multi-video stereo vision and other advanced sensors to identify static objects.

Drones also have sensors to detect close objects during landing and distant objects that can come their way. Machine learning capabilities are also used to spot people during landing. Delivery is delayed if the drone approaches a person or object found in the landing zone. Safety is a key priority during delivery. Some drones are also fitted with visual simultaneous localization and mapping systems that allow them to develop real-time maps of their surroundings.

This means that drones are capable of finding their way without the help of GPS. The goal is to move toward fully autonomous flights by using capabilities such as multi-robot intelligence, modular software, and multispectral sensor fusion. To this, manufacturers aim to improve efficiency, speed, and scale by making aerial technology safe, flexible, and autonomous.

Visual simultaneous localization and mapping also has applications in warehousing and storage and distribution. Autonomous robots are equipped with advanced sensors to navigate in warehouses and keep track of inventory.