The Emerging Role for Drones in Parcel Delivery

The Emerging Role for Drones in Parcel Delivery
Drones parcel delivery

The parcel delivery sector has seen many innovations in recent years, with the very latest being drones. Here we’ll take a look at the emerging role for drones in parcel delivery and how they can potentially benefit the industry.

Are drones the future of parcel delivery?

Amazon delivery drones

Amazon is currently testing its delivery drones at a lab in Cambridge, after getting the governments go ahead. The aim is that their Prime Air service will deliver packages within thirty minutes of order being placed, by flying drones below 500ft.

However, in order for Amazon’s idea to work, they will need regulatory support. As it currently stands, commercial drone pilots must undergo a strict testing process before getting the Civil Aviation Authority’s permission. They must also ensure their drones are always in line of sight – something that would currently limit where Amazon could deliver parcels to.

Other companies that are testing drone delivery around the world include Google and Chinese Internet giant, Alibaba.

DHL delivery drone

Whilst Amazon and Google are busy testing drone delivery, German delivery firm, DHLA has already introduced a regular drone delivery service. The service uses a quadcopter to delivery small packages to Juist, a small German island found 12km into the North Sea from the German coast. Just 2,000 people live here.

The drones regularly carry over medication and other goods deemed to be urgently needed by the small community. Once the automated drones have landed on Juist, a DHL courier picks up the goods and transports them to the recipient.

Whilst this new way of delivering parcels seems to be working well in Germany, the service is not currently available in the UK. This is due to the fact that the Civil Aviation Authority limits unmanned vehicles to operating at least 50m from a building or person and must always be within sight of the operator.

Here in the UK, we’re still a way off having drones deliver our parcels (until adequate safety testing and proper rules have been implemented) however, let’s take a look at some of the possible benefits that drone delivery could offer.

Drones could speed up deliveries in the parcel sector.
Drones could speed up deliveries in the parcel sector.

Speedy parcel delivery

Drones could potentially lead to shorter delivery times; helping more and more brands to meet their customers’ demands for next day deliveries. Amazon is allegedly aiming to get parcels delivered via drones within just 30 minutes, which would mean customers having access to their online purchases quicker than ever before.

Improved road safety

There is also the potential for drone delivery to increase road safety. If more people are ordering online, as opposed to going to the shops and companies are delivering via drones, instead of delivery vans, there will be fewer vehicles on the road, which inevitably means fewer accidents.

Greener parcel delivery

Another benefit of using drones for parcel delivery is that they will significantly reduce companies’ carbon footprints. More drones in the sky are likely to mean fewer gas-guzzling delivery vans on the road, leading to reduced emissions and a healthier planet!

More jobs?

Drone delivery could potentially result in new employment in the parcel delivery sector; however there is also a chance that people could lose their jobs too, as a result of less demand for road-based deliveries. Only time will tell how this pans out.


Whilst drones could certainly contribute a number of benefits to the parcel delivery sector, at the moment it’s all a bit conceptual. Until the CAA and government come up with dedicated procedures for regulating drone usage and companies build drones that can meet adequate safety testing, it’s safe to assume that for now, the technology will remain a thing of the future.


Image credits: Kevin Baird and Michael Khor