Wing Delivery project manager Luke Barrington shows the aircraft and package

If the drone delivery scheme for Canberra takes off, there could be 11,000 flights a day, according to a scenario in a report written for the company behind the scheme. The economists at the AlphaBeta consultancy estimate that by 2030 there would be 5.6 million deliveries a year by drone in the ACT.

Most of these would be of goods currently delivered by road or picked up by the buyer at the shop – but by 2030, the report says “of existing transactions, drones could replace up to one million deliveries and four million pick-ups”.

On top of that, the economists think there will be extra deliveries by drones because the cost of delivery will be so much less than using cars, vans or motorbikes. They say that “by 2030, drone related cost saving and range expansion could add 600,000 new transactions”.

This adds up to 5.6 million drone deliveries a year by Wing and any other operators that come in or 11,000 a day. If each delivery is a flight that means 11,000 round trips, from the seller to the buyer a day.

At the moment, Wing is testing drones on a small scale in Bonython in the south of the ACT and it plans a take-off and landing depot in Gunghalin in the north.

To give a comparison of the complexity of controlling aircraft, there are on average 1700 flights of commercial passenger planes every day in the whole of Australia but they depend on highly sophisticated flight-control and tracking systems. Computers and people monitor movements to make sure there aren’t crashes.

For its 11,000 drone flights a day, Wing said it would be using Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management. UTM relies on each drone “knowing” through its computers the shape of the ground, exactly where it is and where the buildings are and where every other aircraft is.

It uses Google maps (Wing is part of the Google company). A Wing spokesperson said: “Drawing from the technology on which Google Maps is built, we have been able to create a detailed map of the world that allows our drones to navigate safely.  NASA is also involved in developing this UTM technology”.

Wing says putting deliveries in the air actually increases safety because there’s more space up there in contrast to roads where heavy truck and pedestrians are in close proximity.

On top of that, it says there are huge environmental benefits because drones emit a tiny fraction of the global warming carbon dioxide which motor vehicles belch out.

The figures for the number of flights were only one of a set of figures calculated by AlphaBeta which is widely recognised as a reputable economics consultancy with offices in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne and Singapore.

It also thought that Canberrans would get a third of their takeaway meals delivered by drone by 2030.

On average, each household in the city would get some sort of delivery by drone once every 10 days.

AlphaBeta looked at current spending and delivery habits in the ACT and forecast how the figures will change in the next 20 years.

It thinks that deliveries of less than a kilometre will more likely remain by road “due to the ease of customer pick-ups” – in other words, walking or driving to the shop is easier than drone delivery for very short distances.

But for one to 10 kilometres between home and shop, there is a “strong role for drones in fulfilling small-size, medium-range deliveries on an instant and same-day basis”.

Anything over 2.5 kilograms would be too heavy to deliver by drone.

Drones would cut road traffic substantially, according to a team of economists.

This cut in traffic would result in fewer people being killed and hurt in accidents, according to the research.

The researchers calculate how much the number of accidents would fall if motor vehicle use fell. Their report says there are almost 8000 motor vehicle accidents a year on ACT roads.

And cutting traffic would, therefore, result in 70 fewer accidents, including a small number that injure or kill native animals. It concedes that only a small proportion result in death (with the country’s lowest fatality rate) but “despite this, the potential injuries, time, inconvenience and economic cost of vehicle accidents is significant and should not be neglected.”

Opponents of the drone seem unlikely to welcome the report.

One said that drone use would increase stress as the aircraft whizzed noisily by. Andrea Sheather who is involved with Bonython Against Drones said that “the constant excessive noise of the drones would encourage residents to undertake unlawful behaviours that they would otherwise never commit, such as shooting the drones from the sky and an increase in neighbourhood disputes and complaints to government”.

The company which commissioned the report welcomed its findings.

Wing’s chief executive James Burgess said: “Drone delivery is the safest, fastest and most environmentally friendly mode of transport and we’re incredibly excited about the potential long-term benefits of drone delivery for Canberra in improving road safety and reducing vehicle emissions.”

He said the next step would be to “listen to the residents of Canberra – particularly those in Franklin, Harrison, Crace, Gungahlin and Palmerston where we hope to be operating – to understand their preferences, questions and concerns”.

Photo: Karleen Minney

Source: Brisbane Times

UAV DACH: Beitrag im Original auf, mit freundlicher Genehmigung von UAS Vision automatisch importiert, Der Beitrag gibt nicht unbedingt die Meinung oder Position des UAV DACH e.V. wieder. Das Original ist in englischer Sprache.