Table of Contents
Easier Shipment Delivery
Can Drones Be the Future of Autonomous Delivery
Since ancient time, people have faced the necessity to transport goods or merchandizes or mail from one location to another. In almost every part of the world, runners were used by the rulers to convey their messages even before the time it was documented that postal services existed that dates to 255 BC (About history, n.d.). To fulfill their delivery needs, people came up with different solutions such as using animals for delivery purpose and later structured delivery services were introduced. Blake (2010) stated that in the UK, King Henry VII appointed the position “Master of the Posts” and that eventually became the office of the Postmaster General for The Royal Mail back in 1516. But long gone are the days where mediocre technologies or tools were used for delivery purposes. In this modern era, we have many sophisticated delivery services that are using modern day inventions like airplanes, delivery trucks, cargo ships and others. But to take things even further, little mechanical gremlins, drones, is gaining massive popularity to take charge of the delivery system.
Drones are also known as an unmanned aerial vehicle. According to Howell (2015), “In aviation and in space, a drone refers to an unpiloted aircraft or spacecraft” (para. 1). Drones are playing a big part in making deliveries autonomous. By saying autonomous, it is suggested that less human-power needs to be involved in the delivering process and in some cases, it is totally automatic without the need of any human being, all operated by drones and computers.
The traditional way of delivering goods was basically focused on the money that was involved in creating inventories and warehouses. As a result, transports are to travel further distances which increases the fuel consumption. Besides emission of CO2 causes serious damage to our environment. Global warming which endangers our health and jeopardizes our existence is caused because of an excessive amount of CO2 in the air. Kimberly-Clark (as cited in Newing, 2008) stated that if the markets and customers are nearer, then the number of trips to deliver goods will be reduced. This is possible only if the companies share their distributing centers.
The unmanned aerial vehicles or drones have brought a profound change in aerial surveillance and geographical surveying. It can enter an environment that is dangerous for human life. Moreover, for geographical survey and carrying out a confidential operation drones are used in a wide range. For autonomous delivery service, the drone is an emerging idea which can create a massive difference in delivering goods. The autonomous drone can be controlled by the user from the ground by a remote control or onboard controller. They are suitable for delivering goods because of the GPS navigation which will help the customer to track down his or her goods. Smyczyński, Starzec and Granosik (2017) stated that "Operating and navigating outdoors can be very precise due to the availability of GPS signal" (p. 734). Moreover, drones can choose the best route for delivery which saves time and delivers products earlier during emergencies. Therefore, it is strongly agreed that drones really are the future of autonomous delivery as they deliver shipments easily, cost-effective and environmentally friendly.
Easier Shipment Delivery
One can deliver goods or emails via couriers or postal delivery services like UK’s Royal Mail service, courier services like DHL, UHL uses many different methods to transport the mails or parcels. For local deliveries, traditionally ground vehicles are used to deliver things to the receiver. For international shipping, parcels are sent through airplanes on a cargo ship and when they arrive again the traditional ground vehicle delivery system is used to deliver finally to the actual receiver. In both cases, it is easily understandable that the process is very time-consuming.
Drones can be operated in two ways. One is manual control and the other is automated. For a manually controlled drone, a line of sight of the drone and signal range is very important. According to Andert, Adolf, Goormann, and Dittrich (2011), “Typical missions beyond the line of sight allow only limited manual control due to interrupted and delayed communication with the ground control station” (p. 745). Thus, for delivery drones, an automated system is the only feasible option. In many cases, the drone's flight path from its source to the address of customers is unknown. And since drones fly low, avoiding obstacles is of critical importance. Andert et al. further added that the significance of different usage of UAV or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle at altitude which is low and in places which are completely unknown or known in some parts. For drones to choose the best route, it must be able to identify the route it needs to go and plot the best route or shortest route possible. GPS or Global Positioning System, in this case, solves the problem of finding optimal route for drone navigation. Peng, Lin, and Dai (2016) stated that "Similar to setting up the GPS navigation before we drive, the UAV navigation system will generate an optimal or shortest path.” (p. 984). Moreover, it also needs to know how to avoid human-made and nonhuman-made obstacles if those are on its flight path. Many techniques and sensors can be applied to resolve the issue. Peng et al. further argued that using lightweight and cheap digital cameras, vision-based algorithms can be implemented on drones for them to be able to avoid obstacles. Thus, drones can choose the optimal flight route to deliver goods to its customers, making delivery of shipments easier.
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