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Freight Drones – Future of World Trade

Source: Matternet
Image Credit: Matternet

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Freight Drones – Future of World Trade


Freight drones, in combination with passenger-carrying ones, are more than just a concept right now. In fact, they are even closer to real life scenarios than the drones carrying passengers. We can all imagine ourselves ordering pizza and opening the window while waiting for it to be delivered by a small delivery drone.

The Benefits of Freight Drones

The main advantages of freight drones, therefore, are as following:

  • They avoid surface congestion and delays
  • They offer faster and customized delivery
  • They enable the low-cost air cargo services and are cheaper to operate
  • They improve the market access for remote places

What’s Stopping them from Global Use?

Currently, airfreight accounts for about 1% of world trade (by tonnage) and roughly 35% of the world trade when calculated by the value of shipped goods, usually through planes. This is the challenge which freight drones are ready to address – and bring their majority of advantages to the growing market.

Different payload capacities, speeds and other features are all on the table as freight drones are easy to be customized and used in many scenarios. According to facts, they also forecast a very low displacement rate for current standard urban freight delivery and as such as expected to grow and deliver premium services and high value goods.

Global Air Freight Leviathan, Natilus

Global Air Freight Leviathan, Natilus

Freight Drones Nowadays: From Humanitarian to Delivery-Based Projects

Currently, there is no defined landscape or a fleet of large-scale freight drones operating and delivering goods. However, Amazon has been planning such scenario for its delivery service. Companies like UPS, DHL, FedEx and others could also benefit from it in the future.

Humanitarian projects are so far some of the most prominent use-cases for freight drones in rural areas and for small to mid-sized payload categories. However, in the more emerging scenarios, experts believe that freight drones could soon be used in food delivery service, high value goods delivery and other similar concepts for large and specific payloads.

A Matternet drone flies over Zurich

A Matternet drone flies over Zurich | Source: Matternet

All in all, there are major policy concerns that are challenging this use of drones. Beyond the safety and security of vehicles and airspace management systems, regulators must consider and address the energy consumption, payload capacities, related emissions and the impact on the workforce that drones are associated with.

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Cite this article as: Stefan Tasevski, "Freight Drones – Future of World Trade," in, November 28, 2018,

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