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Where in the article does it say that?


What was said in this bloodbath of a comment section?!


How do they compare to electronic trucks and cargo bikes tho.


It's in the article. Electric cargo bikes are more efficient per package. "The study also found that electric bikes consumed less energy per package than drones did."




More funny is that if you read the actual study this is based on if you took the truck, drove it to the house dropped off the box, went back to warehouse and picked up a new box. That is the article numbers, the study goes into more detail and basically a gas truck is more efficient if it delivers ~14 packages per kilometer. Because drones carry 1 package at a time, thus it must go back for every package. A truck can get, if done right, a bunch of people in 1 stop.


And someone else mentioned a good point of drones really only working with single family homes that have an open space to land/drop the package. Really the only perk I see in drones is providing quick shipments of very important supplies. Example being Zipline.


I think it could also work in rural areas or ones with poor road coverage, where it wouldn't be very efficient to send a whole truck because few people live there.


I was thinking the same but was wondering if it would be economically sustainable to operate those areas.


If it's the postal service I think they're already legally obligated to serve those areas, right? So they'd be operating there regardless


Unfortunately quadcopters like this tend to be very inefficient, which means they have a short range. It's unlikely that rural areas will be close enough to a distribution center to make this practical.


Holy cow that's a bad article. Though I guess 14 per km is high. But it also depends how far the depot is, since the drone has to make multiple trips.


All true, the truck shines in high urban or sub-urban, but remember they used a standard gasoline truck, not eclectic which is 3-6 times more efficient than a gasoline truck in theory. So worst case of 3x the efficiency only makes it 4.6 per km. And a truck can carry large boxes, a drone cannot and if it can, this would again reduce the efficiency.


I live in a large apartment building in an urban area. Our UPS guy comes in a regular diesel truck twice a day with the truck absolutely full of packages solely for our block. Pretty sure that's more efficient than a drone delivering each package one by one, even if we had an open area for the drone to drop off packages and not a mailroom indoors.


So for most usecases drone delivery is probably stupid. Apart from that I'd be glad not to have countless drones flying above my head all the time.


One of the authors did a thread on twitter: the study was originally intended to be all about drones, and then they included ebikes as a later afterthought just to have that comparison (e-cargo-bikes make a lot of sense in urban areas but they were thinking about things like remote area medical delivery)


Drones cause noise pollution. Now imagine that your house is between the Amazon distribution center and a city. I hope you like the sound of high pitched buzzing every time someone orders toiletries over Prime. A sky filled with buzzing drones is no utopia and I hope the hawks take matters into their own talons.


This! I saw a CEO of a drone company post a video of a test flight on linkedin. A few people commented on the noise… you could hear the thing coming from 10 minutes out. CEO said “oh it’s just because the phone is overly sensitive to the frequencies.” Nonsense. The arguments are all drones vs combustion engines. The real comparison must be drones vs electric, because the majority of delivery people I see of late are whizzing about on silent ebikes. Protect the skies while we can, maaaaaan


Also, drones dropping out of the sky on your head.


Hey free stuff


So long as it's light and soft and not, say, a complete collection of cast iron cookware


"Where's my ACME anvil that I ordered!"


i just saw a scruffy coyote taking it towards the edge of a cliff


Also the actual drones they’re planning to use are heavy military grade in order to have the lift/durability to be able to scale profitably. One lands on your head, you may well be dead


I can definitely see an Amazon drone clipping power lines.


I live right where you’re talking about. Two major distro hubs AND an entertainment district. Please I do NOT want to deal with drone traffic above my head AND football traffic please I’m begging you please


> *"Drone better."* ~ Ivan Vanko


Being unmanned would make a difference too. Not sure if that is taken into account. That is, energy consumption of the 'operator'.


Well, good luck having a drone ring a bell, fly six, seven flights of stairs up in an apartment complex with the wakeboard or computer parts I ordered, have the delivery signed, and also have nobody complain about the noise at the same time. This is something that only works with letters and very light packages in suburban or rural neighbourhoods. To further nail the coffin for use in populated areas, then you also need to fly high enough (or along roads) to not fly above or through people's properties AND need to keep your distance to any person or vehicle on the ground in case of a malfunction. I love quadcopters and similarly working vehicles, but this is rather utopian


Coincidentally, the person who delivered my wakeboard couldn't get it up one flight of stairs. Maybe they were a prototype drone?


We are all prototype drones.


Let's not discount the noise, as well. I had a drone hovering fairly high over my property and I could hear it from inside the house. Drones flitting all over the place are going to be louder than a fleet of non-electric vehicles.




hey, BRRRR is the optimistic choice here. imagine if they strap speakers onto this thing so they can play ads on it


Sssshhhh! don't give anyone that idea!


Once that happens, I'm buying a paintball gun.


"Now on sale! Paintball guns and paintballs! Order now!"


I don't know the emissions they make, but here in Stockholm e-bike (as in special large cargo bikes with electrical assist) logistics are already becoming pretty common. They seem make a lot of sense in urban environments and you definitely notice the reduced cargo truck traffic in the city which is nice


Yep, I'm in Amsterdam and it's the same here, many things are by electric cargo bike. I think even the full-size delivery vans are generally electric these days too.


Yep same here in Germany, inner city deliveries are mostly done by cargo bike or electric vans, only UPS seems to still use their diesels. Go sightly further out though and the regular vans are still there


UPS uses electric vans too. Source: been scared shitless several times by those things materialising behind me at the traffic lights without making any sound


Reporting from Amsterdam too, I concur.


Can you give me a company/brand name? Because it turns out Stockholm happens to be the name of an e-bike which might be muddying my SEO.


Look for an 'e-cargo-bike' or similar. Some well-known brands here in the Netherlands are Urban Arrow and Babboe.


Not the guy you're replying to but here's a dutch version: https://www.postnl.nl/over-postnl/werkenbij/productie/fietskoerier/


I’ll be honest, zooming around on a sweet bike delivering packages to people like some sort of cyberpunk Santa sounds like a pretty decent gig


Sounds about as sweet as any other delivery gig... Shite


But did you use an electric scooter


ah the convenience of being exposed to the elements. that makes everything more fun ;)


and the big things like cars and trucks on the road.... the way people drive, its just really not safe around here


Face it I'm a prime catch. I'm pulling down delivery boy money.


Yep. Check my bank account. My PIN is 1077, the price of a cheese pizza and a soda in 1999.


[Hiro Protagonist](https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow_Crash) vibes


Or Dark Angel


That was my thought, though its closer to YT than Hiro. Hiro still drove a car and YT was the one doing packages.


Good shout :) been a while since I read it




My thoughts exactly, bakfietsen are quite popular here, especially with electric assist, and some companies deliver mail and parcels that way.
















I've seen a lot of Ring videos where the drivers are working on that issue. It saves them a couple of seconds/feet every time.


*yeets new GPU at the door*


more failure points. more cost.


Amazon is already trying to figure out the logistics of creating sub warehouses in blimps. The idea is, it's basically a grocery store that flies around the city, deploying drones, then resupplying the cargo blimp at night.






Milton Keynes sounds like the name of a confused economist, not a town...


They started in 2015. I wonder if it's still being developed or if they've run into some problems.




Yeah, te only "more efficient" part of drone delivery I can think of is not hauling your cargo to all stops prior. But then again, that would mean more frequent returns to (a) base.


Which is *not* efficient. Which is the primary problem with drone delivery. Add in that you still need ground delivery over the same area for items heavier than a few pounds and they become even less so since they're covering ground already serviced.




















They wouldn't be more efficient in cities like Berlin where the truck delivers at least a couple packages per house


So likely it won't move a needle environmentaly




That's one thing all the pretty tik tok videos etc strip out of the video clips, because the loud ass buzzing would totally ruin the impression they are trying to give. So much so, that I sorta think people who only see the results of drone footage forget about the noise.




Who's providing that service? I've not come across it before.


There's a firm called Starship in my area. I've seen delivery robots in Milton Keynes and Northampton, but there might be other areas too.


I'm assuming this is only for a very lightweight packages, I doubt my 40 lb bag of cat litter will be delivered by drone anytime soon




But you would want to live in a place with flying drones buzzing around?


Generally agree, but sometimes those roads require a lot of additional maneuvering and impact other traffic in the process. I happen to live in an area where a straight line of flight could have an advantage.


This was my immediate thought. Also there will be environmental imact from millions of drones flying around and possibly scaring off birds or other animals. Also don't forget the environmental production costs of those drones. Not to mention that airspace is strictly regulated. I don't know why we need to research fancy solutions that are probably doomed to fail for problems that are being solved quite practically already.


There's also a huge safety risk. Currenlty, thse companies are lobbying to remove FAA safety regulations that currently prevent these things from really taking off. Currenlty, if you are flying below 500ft, you are required to have visual awareness of what is around you. This is because there is more air traffic than you would think at that altitude; agricultural crop dusters, paragliders, hang gliders, skydivers, etc. FAA is currently entertaining a change in their policies to make these delivery drones more usable. The change would be that the DRONES have *blanket right-of-way* do not need to have *any* kind of awareness of their surroundings, the responsibility would *entirely* lie on everyone else except the drone to not crash into them. There is a significant safety issue involved here for the sake of increasing corporate profit. https://www.wiley.law/alert-FAA-Committee-Releases-BVLOS-Recommendations Particularly *this part* "giving UA right of way over crewed aircraft that are not equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcasts (ADS-B) or Traffic Awareness Beacon Systems (TABS) in Non-Shielded Low Altitude Areas;" This part is dangerous, mainly because of the inclusion of that last part **"Non-Shielded Low Altitude Areas"** It might not sound like anything to folk who aren't into aviation/aerosports, but it really sucks. These rules, like most of the FAA rules, were written in blood. Now we want to make them more lax for corporate profit instead of making them adhere to current safety standards.


I am funnily enough a private pilot, but in Europe. So I mostly understand the problem here. This is what I referred to slightly in another answer. The airspace just can not accept millions of drones safely. Even drone routes for example are missing the point. Because why do you need drones when you can't travel direct.


You don't get grant money by saying problems are already solved in the best way possible.


Badly. To actually do drone delivery you legally need them to enter airspace which in major cities near distribution centers where they can actually pull this off will be highly congested/dominated by actual planes. Not really having a good solution to that they also have serious issues in regards to setting packages down safely, when Amazon tried to do this back on 2012ish their drones would frequently show up, detect random objects they aren't designed to deal with in the way such as cars and people and then just turn around and not deliver the package.










The temperature thing won't be much of an issue. My lipos get up to 50C easily if I fly decently hard. Make the drone white and it won't get extremely hot from the sun. On the race part. Many companies are testing VTOL fixed wing drones for deliveries. They can land everywhere, but are much more efficient while cruising. Cheap fixed wing hobby drones can already fly decent distances. News sites, however, don't like to do actual research and just look for a stock photo of a drone with a package to add articles. Not that I'm a big fan of the idea of drone delivery, but it's definitely feasible.


Yes, energy storage is the biggest bottleneck in technology today


Cold weather is probably a bigger problem since it slashes the battery efficiency which will really limit the range.


Or order big blocks of ice and drop it in the ocean.


That drone isn't flying from the warehouse to your door. They'd drive a big truck to ypur neighborhood, park it then fly the drone from there.


Okay but hear me out, what if they got a big drone to carry the truck into the neighborhood


For the most curious a https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikorsky_S-64_Skycrane can carry ~10 tonnes so a semi-trailer truck ~5t at only 1/5h capacity so 5t (out of 25t).


And then we use Mi-26 (largest operational helicopter in the word) to carry the S-64s. Who needs wheels?


Guys... we might just be re-inventing logistics.










That still sounds huge though. I’d wager typical UPS delivery vans burn most of their fuel idle / in low gear on low speed street, in trafic or at trafic light, at half capacity, than going back and forth their warehouse. So that’d cut the inefficient part of the journey, allow higher capacity trucks from the warehouse, cut noise and emissions in high density areas, all with the beneficial externality of cutting down traffic (again reducing noise emissions fuel consumption etc). Of course I’m sure there’s negative externalities that could negate that (noise, safety, privacy?)


>cut noise Not so sure about that, drones are pretty loud


Who doesn't want a lawn mower flying by their window all the time? ...I just thought about people in high rise buildings getting packages delivered straight to their balcony.


Definitely loud up close, but the noise tends to dissipate when they're at a higher altitude. Also as someone else mentioned, they're still softer than trucks. I don't know how the noise from a 'mothership' would be, though.


> I’d wager typical UPS delivery vans burn most of their fuel idle / in low gear on low speed street, in trafic or at trafic light, at half capacity, than going back and forth their warehouse. That's why these should be electric.


Which is why a lot of European cities are using cargo ebikes for the final step of delivery. But you need infrastructure and actual city planners that aren't sucking at the tit of the automobile and oil industry.


> Which is why a lot of European cities are using cargo ebikes for the final step of delivery. Here in Germany this applies to regular mail. Delivery companies drive vans, big and small.


Was this article sponsored by Amazon?


A book on getting better hand-delivered by a drone? There it is again, that funny feeling...


Amazon tried this years ago and found it to be too difficult and impractical. They took all the promotion for it off their site. This wouldn’t be sponsored by Amazon.


IIRC Amazon had their big public push and it was the new hotness for a few months until the FAA said that yeahhhhh guys with licenses/training/etc will need to be operating these things and won't just be able to zip around unregulated... and the whole thing fizzled out. Self-driving cars went through a similar hype cycle and we're still waiting on those but at least you still hear noise about 'em every now and again. Maybe after that gets worked out in two dimensions we can add a third.


Amazon fired the whole department looking at this a few years ago. Economically and logistically there are just too many problems with drone delivery right now.


This year I've gotten a 20 lb battery, 15 lb ice maker, a 50 lb cooler and a 36-pack of toilet paper. I can't see any of those being handled by a drone. Much too limited.


All deliveries don't need to be done this way to make it viable though.


This work was supported by the US Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office , award number DE-EE0008463 .


Comments too apparently






How is the UPS guy gonna fit in a drone?


"Greenhouse-gas emissions per parcel were 84% lower for drones than for diesel trucks" Many delivery services use electric-only small trucks within city limits. A drone might still consume less energy, but on the other hand can carry less, and might become targets for would-be marksmen.


> and might become targets for would-be marksmen. only because it's somewhat more acceptable to shoot a drone than a delivery driver


They could use an anti-drone "gun." It just shoots a jamming sign at the drone which interferes with the control signal. There are commercial models available for law enforcement but I assume civilians can't legally get them since producing radio jamming signals is already very illegal and will bring the FCC to your house with black helicopters faster than you can say "my ass is up on federal charges." But I bet it would probably be not very hard for an amateur with a soldering iron and spare parts to cobble together a homemade signal jammer that would get the job done, either just to cause some chaos for the giggles or to make off with the package and/or the whole drone before the operator could get there. Catching people jamming usually is a matter of hunting down a fairly strong & obvious signal but that usually requires someone doing it repeatedly in the same area, so unless they got a lucky video still or something such a skyway robber might be hard to catch. However, I'm quite sure the FCC doesn't have regulations about the use of trained falcons...


Porch piracy is illegal too; doesn't stop thieves there either. I don't know the relative penalties for one versus the other but given you're not going to someone's door to steal I'd wager the risk of getting caught for drone interception is probably lower. There might be electronic means of observing for jammers but I suspect those are few and far between.


if you were to jam the signal on my drone, it would just fly home. I'm sure amazon can afford similar features


The amount of noise pollution from the propellers would be enough to make even small payload drones a no go for residential use. I much rather see more full EV long distance trucks and EV delivery vans or assisted cargo bikes within neighborhoods. The warehouses alone can make use of the massive flat roofs for solar power.


That was my thought. This is measuring emissions per km, which might indeed show a drone being more efficient, but that ignores that drones can only carry one 0.5kg package at a time. They're going to end up travelling a far greater total distance to deliver the same number of packages than an electric truck or cargo bike that can hold dozens or hundreds of the same packages.


“Therefore, an analysis of the energy consumption and GHG emissions on a per metric ton-km basis in Figure S1 shows that small drones are the most energy-intensive vehicles.” Per package assumption was based on all packages in a truck/bike being 500g and relatively low density. This study just sanity-checks that at one upper limit the energy efficiency of drones might mean that they make sense.


I keep thinking people are just going to shoot them down. The new way to steal packages.


Or they malfunction, drop it, and take out old man Jenkins while he’s walking his dog…


I knew no good would come from city folk and their flying machines!!


Death by flying dildo


Not Old Man Jenkins...




I don't think package thieves tend to be masters of planning and risk assessment to begin with, though. It would at least be harder for them to follow a drone than it is to tail a delivery truck to snatch packages off porches, I suppose.


We could attach guns and armour to them. What could go wrong?


Horrible idea. You know how many tens of thousands of drone flights that would require in big cities? Cargo bikes + electric trucks are much more sensible. Drones either can't carry enough or are too loud.


Yes, any "one vehicle per parcel" last mile solution would overwhelm any city. An automatic rolling machine, that would bring 20-50 packages per trip one by one, following the calculated optimal path would be close to ideal.


They (Amazon's planned model) also weigh like 60lbs, and fly about 60mph, can you imagine if one malfunctioned over a crowded city street and crashed? With thousands in the air every day, this would be a regular occurrence.


They'll have to have a lot of redundancy built in, commercial grade drones are totally next level compared to what most people know of as drones. Still though, I'd hate the idea of them going everywhere, there'd be horrendous noise pollution and obstacle issues


The FAA wouldn't allow operation if the system wasn't demonstrated reliable enough or if risk couldn't be reduced sufficiently. They actually have very few moving parts so catastrophic failure is unlikely.


You say that as if the FAA isn't already the target of regulatory capture: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulatory_capture#Federal_Aviation_Administration It's not hard to imagine an Amazon board member getting appointed to the head of the FAA. Like Ajit Pai and the FCC, DeJoy and the Post Office, or De Vos and the Department of Education.


Also, what is the lifespan of these drones compared to the lifespan of other delivery vehicles? Would be unfortunate if emissions from production outweighed the delivery savings.


Those will become the next leaf blower.


How do you stop them killing birds?


how much could a drone actually carry?- seems there'd be so many drones it would block out the sun (if you consider how many packages my wife has coming to our home.)


So you will fight in the shade :)


Bezos is a generous god


post sponsored by Amazon™


They (Amazon) are literally lobbying the FAA to make it so that ALL other aviation traffic is responsible for avoiding their drones, requiring owners to purchase ABS-B equipment, which constantly broadcasts an aircraft's location and costs thousands of dollars so Amazon's drones can "see" them. This means ALL aircraft, including stuff like hot air balloons, and slow flying ultralights, that have little chance of spotting and avoiding a 60lb Amazon drone flying at 60mph. They are very close to succeeding at this point. Amazon will basically own the air above us all.


How would this function for an apartment complex for example? What sort of infrastructure does this method require, and what are the draw backs of these infrastructures


It can drop it off on the balcony or fling it through the window of course


Buy now the "Amazon Personal Drone Delivery Point" it has all the sensors required to ~~scan your neighborhood~~ safely deliver your packages at your window!


Not to mention: Truck drives and parks in front once, delivery person goes about delivering 50 parcels. Vs 50 drones trying to ring the correct doorbell...


The use case for drones shouldn't be high density deliveries like multi-unit apartment buildings. It would be more suburban neighborhoods where the driver has to stop at every other house for 1-2 packages. The big shippers have already tried to address this with centralized lockers. People are too used to direct delivery.


Package pick up points are pretty standard in the eu, Heck without prime, it's free shipping to a package point


Yes my package of straws and hairspray will arrive any moment!


But what about ballistic delivery by trebuchet?


>per parcel were 84% lower I'm going to have to assume this is considering a fully loaded vehicle for both, correct? Otherwise it would be rational to load a van with 84xs the product and it would come out even.


It’s difficult to imagine a drone being more efficient than a delivery van for multiple packages. I’m imagining a drone delivering one package, returning to its fulfillment center for the next, repeatedly. Whereas a delivery van would load once and not return until their route is completed. I must be missing something cause I don’t see the savings. Of course the savings delivering one package at a time would favor the drone, but I don’t see it for multiple packages.


Cool - so make one that's completely silent, completely safe from falling out of the sky, and that's completely unable to spy on me as it passes. ...no? - of course not. We can do EXACTLY the same thing with electic bikes, scooters and mini electric vans, right now, and indeed they are doing exactly that, here in Madrid.


I hate the idea of drone based delivery systems because drones are OBNOXIOUS. Especially drones that are large enough to carry packages. Can you imagine a world with skies filled with drones, buzzing over your head and blocking a clear view of the sky?? We need to pump the brakes on this one. Delivery drones benefit a small group of people by monetizing public airspace.


Better would be planning this out before road construction and having extra "mains lines" similar to sewer, water, and underground power. An underground drone network. Could integrate normal mail, parcels, and even things like groceries. You could mitigate most of the downsides from projects like what boring company was doing, by making an automated drone network instead of having to rate it for high speed and/or human usage. Would mitigate the dangers of large scale drone usage in the same environment as people and wildlife.


Per parcel, what about per kg/lbs?


This stinks of corporate propaganda. At this point, we have heard so much about the risks and regulatory problems that would make this ineffective, that all I keep seeing is attempts by Amazon to sell the public on a delivery system that does not require as many human beings, regardless of if it even makes sense. I imagine inclement weather and not being able to get medical supplies, I imagine unseen environmental impact, I see lack of accountability in delivery security. I see so many issues that cannot be fixed, and yet we're worried about just fuel costs being a sign of the way forward? I don't believe it.


I thought the main issue with drone delivery is their proximity to air fields and no fly zones? I’ve seen that drones are being used for remote places in Africa to deliver medication but I feel like that’s the better direction to go in. Otherwise bikes and paying someone to deliver it seems like the future