Will fleets of hybrid-electric ghost planes replace trucks as the delivery’s dominant vehicle? Stan Caldwell, Carnegie Mellon University’s Adjunct Associate Professor of Transportation and Public Policy, thinks it’s feasible. “We’re seeing rapid increase in serious consideration of drones for freight delivery, especially last-mile freight,” he says. ‘Last mile’ is the part of a delivery process that reaches the consumer – normally from a distribution center. Some of the world’s biggest retailers and logistics companies – like Google, UPS and DHL – are already experimenting with drone delivery.
Caldwell thinks delivery systems are becoming less centralized through a few companies, aiding the drone logistics boom. There are many players on the market. “Distribution of systems is a trend in the freight industry. Walmart has delivery drones, and next, your local independent grocery store gets its own.”