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Commercial drones may almost be ready to disrupt last-mile parcel delivery, according to Richard Smith, FedEx Express' US regional president and execute vice president.

FedEx is looking at the potential for drones to replace couriers for certain last-mile residential deliveries in order to boost efficiency.

The company, in partnership with Wing, which is owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet, made the US’ first scheduled commercial drone delivery to a home last month. FedEx has been researching drones for over a decade, Smith said, but with new technological developments the time is almost ripe for market viability.

For courier companies, residential deliveries have always been less time and cost-efficient compared to business shipments. With the rapid growth of e-commerce, home deliveries have brought in big business but also ballooning operational costs.

Drones may be the solution to last-mile delivery costs
Credit: Avi Waxman

According to Smith, the drones would reduce the need for long-winded journeys, with more stops per mile and more packages per stop.

Wing’s drones are for lightweight parcels up to 3 pounds. They can run for 12 miles at 70 miles per hour, with propellers designed to give them horizontal speed. For deliveries, the drone doesn’t have to touch down, lowering the package by tether instead.

FedEx’s drone trials with Wing are expected to continue until mid-2020.

Source: Commercial Appeal

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