At present, a large number of products are manufactured in China and transported to countries across the globe. For approximately 90 percent of the items exported, container ships are used for transportation. The World Shipping council claims that the value of these goods is more than $4 trillion. However, it can take more than one month for goods manufactured in China to reach New York or other places in the USA. This is because there have been no major changes in the supply chain globally since the 1950s. To reduce shipment delivery delays and other problems, several drone startups are investing their time and resources to change the shipping industry.
In addition to the long wait for exported goods to reach their destination, there are also significant delays in the delivery of items within the country, which is a driving force behind arguments for drone use in delivery. For example, the American Trucking association claims that in the United States, trucks are used for transporting 70 percent of goods by weight on road. In addition to being slow, the shippers are also finding that it is difficult to find truck drivers, due to the shortage of trained drivers. This is why drone startups are planning to use drones for both freight (heavy cargo) and delivery in the next few years.
At present, one of the most stringent laws imposed on those operating drones commercially is that the drone pilot should maintain visual line of sight with the drone. Hence, most drone startups are focusing on using drones as delivery drones, delivering the items ordered to the customer at the address specified. This can reduce the time taken for delivery of the items to the end customer to some extent. Though the number of delivery drones is less at present, it is expected to increase rapidly in the next few years.
Due to the shortage of drivers for trucks and similar vehicles, there is a greater demand for freight drones, which will carry heavy cargo and goods, flying long distances to deliver the goods or samples to a specified address. One major restriction is on the flying height of the drone. If the drone is flying at a low height, it will hit buildings, especially skyscrapers. However, if the drone is flying at a greater height, it may hit aircraft. Therefore, the height at which a freight drone can fly is largely specified by the aviation industry. These drones are also used extensively by the military, especially over difficult terrain, and their use for medical applications will also increase in future.
Despite the major advances in technology in other sectors, there has been no significant improvement in the time taken for transporting heavy goods being exported or transported within a large country. Experts in the shipping industry believe that using freight and delivery drones can reduce the time and cost of delivered goods to great extent, and the market for these drones is increasing rapidly.