Drone Delivery: How much would you pay?


In this post I discuss the prospects of consumer product delivery by drones and ask: How much are you willing to pay for the service? There is a survey at the end so you we all can see what the trend is.  I'll post the results later.  PS - this is not sponsored by Amazon.

I love the look of the Tesla Model S, but I’d never get one. Somehow, the opportunity to pay $100K to drive only 300 miles before spending 4 to 9 hours recharging does not appeal to me. I also love the idea of Amazon’s drone delivery initiative Prime Air.  But, like the Tesla, the opportunity to pay a lot of money for drone delivery of the latest camera just doesn’t make sense.

Amazon has successfully painted a picture of a future in which its drones push merchandise from its warehouses to nearby consumers in 30 minutes. But to qualify for Prime Air, the order must be less than five pounds, which, according to Bezos, includes 86% of the packages Amazon currently sells. The order must also be small enough to fit in the cargo box that the craft will carry, and the delivery location must be within a 10-mile radius of a participating Amazon order fulfillment center.

What is less than 5 lbs.?  Here’s some examples from some recent online shopping trends research:

  • Consumer electronics
  • Books
  • Clothing

...read more here:  http://droneanalyst.com/2014/08/24/drone-delivery-how-much/

Take the three question survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/drone-delivery

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  • FYI - I posted the results here:  http://diydrones.com/profiles/blogs/drone-delivery-by-the-numbers

  • I really have no use for Amazon anymore. (Let me tell you why!) I decided to build a quad copter back in June of this year. I constructed the frame, and ordered the parts through Amazon.

     I had ordered set of (4) props, I received (2), and they were the wrong ones anyway. (Sent back).

    I ordered a transmitter with receiver through Amazon. I never got the transmitter, although I paid for one. So after several emails to the company that supposedly shipped the transmitter, plus several trips to the post office, and contacting the delivery driver. It was discovered that the transmitter was never shipped to me. (Money eventually refunded)

    I ordered a flight control board through Amazon, it was damaged, sent it back. Ordered another “flight control board” through Amazon, (it is defective). I contacted the company and after some exchanges, I was offered a choice, refund, or, replacement. I took the refund option.

    NOTE: I am not going to wait weeks for another replacement “board” to arrive from China. Or am I going to pay extra to have my order expedited!

    Like I said, I started building my quad-copter in June. It is now the end of August. I wasted an entire summer using parts suppliers through Amazon for my quad copter build. The quad parts came from China, and took weeks to get here!  I’ll never use Amazon for anything like this again. Like I said I wasted an entire summer trying to build my quad copter!

    If I have to pay extra for parts, I am going to order from companies that are here in the USA! 

    Amazon should post this next to their logo as a warning…Caveat emptor!

    (Amazon is one company I DEFINETLY will not use anymore...!)

  • I think we are all assuming battery technology will be the same in 10 years as it is today.

    Think back 10 years, none of what we do today would have been practical with NiCd batteries.

    Now we have LiPo which is a huge step up in weight / performance but there are still huge opportunities to improve.

    The concept of the battery being the actual airframe is probably only 10 years away and it is conceivable that energy densities and recharge times could easily double again in that time.

    Fast forward 50 years and the landscape could be totally different again.

    A 50 year old model airplane doesn't operate anything like the way we fly today so I think it is highly unlikely what we fly today will still be flying in 50 years time.
    We live in very exciting times.

  • 5lb? Try 5kg...:)

    Should be doing a demo of this with the EPM code in 3.2 in the coming weeks. Just gotta replace the ESC's on half the motors - Hobbyking changed the firmware between June and November last year. Great.

  • You said it! You, don't recommend flying in rough weather...

  • Try to have a simple quad-copter deliver 100 pound HDTV, computer, washer, drier, furniture, or manhandle a 400 pound refrigerator though a door and up a flight of stairs? (No it just can't be done.) And drones cannot fly in rough weather. They are grounded...

    ...Rolls eyes... No one is saying that it will completely replace manned delivery. Don't be ridiculous.

    Further, I've flown my APM based quad in 20 mph winds with 40 mph gusts. It was an adventure, and I don't recommend it, but who says it can't fly in rough weather?

  • Try to have a simple quad-copter deliver 100 pound HDTV, computer, washer, drier, furniture, or manhandle a 400 pound refrigerator though a door and up a flight of stairs? (No it just can't be done.) And drones cannot fly in rough weather. They are grounded...

  • Moderator

    I think that drone deliveries real value comes in places like harsh environments that are somewhat remote.  For example: having a drone deliver goods from a pharmacy in a populated place like Florida would seem almost silly, and I doubt that anyone could justify the fee you would have to charge in order to make it a viable business.  

    But the same exact delivery, made to a farm or ranch located outside of Billings, Montana in the dead of winter, could be a service where the value would be easily justified.   To really make the business work, you would alos need to be able to lease the drones.  

    Of course another big issue is the amount of weight the drone could carry.   A hybrid multi-copter/airplane seems like the best solution to me.  

  • Obviously at first the delivery cost will be high because it is such a unique way to deliver goods. However, I think that long term this type of technology could be a very cost effective means of delivery.

    It seems to me that a simple quadcopter would be a much more efficient than paying a human to drive a truck in many situations.

  • @Bojan. What you are saying is all speculation. The first thing is getting past government regulators. This is a given. *Have you thought about the weather?* What about when the season’s change, the autumn wind and rains. How about when the winter arrives? The high winds, blowing snow, freezing temperatures, cold drains electrical power from batteries, props would be coated, motor covered with ice. And the comprehensive insurance rates to cover flying drones in cities... sky high! So no, I can’t see drone delivery service becoming a reality.

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