As of 2019, large delivery companies such as Amazon have pushed for FAA approval to roll out drone delivery across the western world, and in doing so; could create an industry predicted to be worth 1.5 trillion dollars by 2040. Low cost, and more energy efficient than any other delivery system, UAV’s could prove to be an environmentally friendly alternative to current delivery methods. But although they have the potential to be wonderfully productive, can they also be dangerous?
Drones as Flying Weapons
As drone deliveries are beginning to be trialed, people are becoming increasingly concerned for their own safety, and in some ways, their concern is justified. Drone technology is far from perfected and an uncontrollable factor, such as bad weather, can cause the UAV’s to miss their drop off markers or interfere with the drones wireless connection. This can then cause the drone to drop out of the sky without warning and inflict extensive injury to anyone below.
Even if these kinds of issues are corrected, there is still always room for human error or unwarranted interference. For example, drones carrying parcels for delivery can become very appealing to potential thieves, and as these drones are unmanned and autonomous using hacks to bring them to the ground could be a potential concern, and once again, would unexpectedly endanger the people below.
Inexperienced drone flyers can also pose a risk, unintentionally colliding with other UAV’s delivering goods or services. This could cause injury, loss of goods or the destruction of the property below. But to combat this, the FAA will be monitoring their flight paths similarly to the current aircontrol system.
Drones as VIP Delivery Vehicles
Although there are some major concerns regarding the deployment of drones in the delivery service, it can be argued that the advantages far outweigh any potential danger. One such advantage would be the assistance it could provide to those with limited mobility. UPS and CPS are beginning to explore using drones to deliver prescription medicines and improve the lives of those who are housebound or would otherwise struggle to pick up their medication.
Not only this, but drones can also reach places usually hard to reach and at a far lower cost. Charities such as UNICEF are looking to take advantage of this, by using drones to deliver humanitarian aid to countries like Rwanda.
Some are also concerned that the larger, more labour intensive drones; used for carrying heavier objects, will fail and inflict much more serious damage. Furthermore, they are concerned that these types of drones will become a daily occurence flying above their gardens and streets making them much more of a threat. But the truth is, these kinds of drones will probably not receive the permissions needed to fly over populated areas and are actually being developed to take off and land on water, eliminating the need to fly over cities at all.
All things considered, drones do have the potential to be dangerous. But no more than other methods of transport such as cars, buses and bikes, and with a considerably less environmental impact. However, further testing and development is needed to prove that they are truly safe, and once this has been achieved, the applications are limitless.