According to management consulting company Oliver Wyman, when it comes to delivering goods by drone, it will be the military sector that adopts the technology fastest, over the short term.
Retail giants, such as Amazon and Walmart, and global transport companies such as DHL and UPS, as well as many public postal services, have been expending vast resources on the development of drone delivery systems for individuals, even though the consumer sector is fraught with technical and legal challenges. Regardless, the drone delivery market is ‘heating up’, given the extent of resources that these industry heavyweights are plowing into developing drone delivery technology.
A study by the firm Oliver Wyman suggests that by 2020, the value of goods delivered by drone will be 22 billion euros, but whilst huge the business will remain marginal for some time.
In short, drone use in military conflict zones as well as in the context of internal conventional operations armed forces will see the most significant drone delivery industry development. At the civil level, deliveries of products organized inside a factory or warehouse will be the most dynamic by 2020.
This is largely because military delivery activity does not require too much organization of airspace. On the other hand, the delivery of parcels to individuals living in urban areas or in isolated areas will remain limited in the coming years (a turnover of 132 million euros is envisaged in 2020) whilst airspace management and regulatory protocols are ironed out.
“It will take a long time before the drone delivery as we imagine it really takes off. This should not happen before 2025, “said Guillaume Thibault, a partner at Oliver Wyman, who said that the new urbanized areas of emerging countries will be the fastest to organize this activity. On the other hand, the air transport of medical products is expected to increase more rapidly and represent 167 million euros in 2020 and 1.5 billion ten years later.
“On the enormous market of last mile logistics (1,600 billion euros in 2030), the delivery by drone in its various forms could represent 22 billion euros (excluding passenger transport), or a market share 1.5%, ” explains the study. Civil activities (urban delivery of products to individuals and businesses, supply of isolated areas, hospital sector) should contribute a little more than half to this set.
The firm believes that the technological obstacles, mainly the organization of a low altitude airspace (under 150 meters) that is automatically regulated, and the establishment of autonomous systems of detection and avoidance installed on the future delivery drones, should be overcome in the next few years. Similarly, the study considers that the legal and practical prerequisites (development of emergency landing zones) will be lifted in the medium term.