Drone delivery possible with new technology

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Most people would agree it would be easier if a package could be delivered in a matter of hours rather than days. Since the Federal Aviation Administration approved drone deliveries Oct. 1, this could now be a possibility.

Drone deliveries take place once a company has been approved and certified through the FAA, which can take months or even years.

The first company to receive approval from the FAA to do drone deliveries was Alphabet Wing, Google’s parent company, shortly followed by the United Parcel Services.

UPS is now using drones to deliver medical packages on campuses with extensive medical programs and expansive campuses.

As of right now, UPS only has certification to deliver healthcare supplies within federal regulations.

In contrast, Alphabet Wing is only allowed to have one pilot and one drone, whereas UPS is allowed to have several pilots and drones out at a time.

Dr. John Marselus, professor and chair of the Aviation Science Department, said using drones is an excellent idea as it uses technology to deliver items in a more efficient manner.

“Drone delivery will work, but only with safe integration into our national airspace system. This is an initiative between industry, government and academia as we take the proven principles in manned aviation and then adapt them for unmanned aviation,” Marselus said.

Students could benefit from drone deliveries because textbooks and school supplies often take weeks to come in depending on how busy the company is with shipping packages.

Vasti Duran, junior psychology major, said drones delivering packages would be new, fast and convenient.

“Drone deliveries would be efficient for small distance delivery. Delivering a letter or a package can take a day or two to be delivered within its own state but with drones it can be there within minutes or hours,” Duran said.

Although drone delivery sounds fun and futuristic, there are still concerns many students have regarding the security of packages.

“Just like every type of delivery you have the risk of the package getting lost. Another concern is that my package might be delivered to the wrong person or dropped in midair,” Duran said.

Drones delivering packages could reap major benefits, but there are still many potential down sides.

Jeremiah Sanada, sophomore mechanical engineering major, explained his concerns regarding the physical makeup of a drone and its battery life and operating range.

“Will it have the ability to deliver the package without damaging the product? Also, there is a slight possibility the drones could be hacked, and what if the drone was knocked out of the air and the package was stolen?” Sanada said.

Companies will face challenges along the way before drone deliveries work out successfully. 

Marselus said companies will need to be aware of several things as they move forward in developing technology to make drone delivery a reality. 

“One of the greatest challenges is to detect and avoid technology along with line-of-sight capability. Both of these will need to be worked out to bring an acceptable level of safety and security. The drones will need to ensure they are deconflicted with any terrain along with manmade objects,” Marselus said.

Drone delivery is something the world has not seen. Yet, many have discussed it because it would be easier and more efficient than ground transport. The possibility of drone delivery becoming normal could be close as more businesses invest in this market.

As of Oct. 21, UPS and CVS Pharmacy have teamed up to develop drones that would deliver packages straight to people’s houses.

New technologies are being developed each day, so it will be no surprise if one day a drone is delivering packages instead of the mail carrier.

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