There are some industries that are expected to drastically change in the coming years as robots become sophisticated enough to take on jobs that were once the exclusive domain of humans. Much has been written about whether robots, or advanced automation at the very least, will have much of an impact on freight transport. Will drones one day soon be hovering above towns and cities as they deliver packages right to the recipient's front door? The answer is not as clear as you might think.

Safety Issues in Residential Areas

The primary concern about using drones for freight delivery is the issue of safety. Even a lightweight package has the potential to injure a pedestrian if it was to somehow detach and fall from a moderate height. A malfunctioning drone could cause even more damage to persons and property if it crashed. Dedicated air corridors in metropolitan and suburban areas for drones is one way around this, as is the lack of door-to-door delivery. Drones might instead deliver packages to a predesignated automated station where the recipient would need to pick it up. This means that drones are not flying above most residential areas, merely along a predesignated air corridor from the depot to the delivery station.

Rural Communities

Drones might have more of an impact on freight delivery in isolated communities. The drones could fly along the most convenient path to their destination and there would not be much concern of them causing damage if there was a malfunction, as they would largely be flying over open countryside. There is still a major barrier for drones to perform such deliveries, whether it's to an isolated community or a metropolitan area.

Endurance Issues

Current drone technology does not allow for prolonged flight, and the minimal flight time is reduced even more when the drone is carrying the weight of a package in addition to the multiple rotors it needs to propel in order to stay airborne. Unsurprisingly, this is set to change. Researchers have developed drone technology that will allow the drone to stay airborne for a much longer period of time and to fly at a much greater speed than was possible before. As this technology improves, the range and speed of the drones will significantly increase.

So while drone technology already allows for the limited delivery of some types of freight, transport companies still need to work out a few safety and endurance issues—although this is a question of when, rather than if. Don't be surprised if your birthday present in a few years is delivered by a flying robot from a freight transport company like Jayde Transport.