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Is Drone Delivery Really the Future of the Logistics Industry?

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A 22-year-old patient with lung illness was transported from Puttur to Bengaluru in 2020 in just four hours and twenty minutes. Public participation kept traffic at a minimum. The ambulance driver deserves enormous praise. Nevertheless, it doesn't hurt to consider the technology that would have enabled them to transport the medicine from Bangalore to Puttur without any hassle. Yes, Drones make our way much easier now. The logistics industry is trying to deliver products to the doorstep with drones.

Supply chains, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic, must be more resilient, efficient, cost-effective, and strictly time bound in order to meet rising consumer demand and the business obligation of providing an exceptional customer experience. Sellers and logistics companies are being pushed to consider alternatives to the current vehicle-based logistics networks by expectations such as on-demand and same-day deliveries.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) estimates that 85 million shipments and documents are delivered daily worldwide. In addition to handling these unbelievable scales of deliveries, research indicates that last-mile delivery often takes the most time and accounts for 50 percent of the entire logistical requirements.

A rapid rise of logistics stakeholders is turning to drone technology to address the inefficiencies in last-mile logistics since it can eliminate vehicular emissions, clear traffic jams, and regulate operational costs while satiating customer demand for on-demand and instant delivery. While initially used for military purposes, drones are now revolutionizing supply chains and logistics through a variety of applications in warehouses, GPS technology, inspections, scans of unsafe regions, and package delivery.

Where does India Stand on Drones?
India's Drone Liberalization Policy, established in 2021, aims to hasten drone commercial and industrial use in light of the expanding sector-wide applications. To support domestic production, the Indian government has authorized the Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for drones and drone parts in addition to campaigning for policy changes.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation reports that 15 million dollars will be given to producers as part of this program over three fiscal years. The government also promotes programs like Drone Shakti, which supports drone companies, and Drone-as-a-Service (DrAAS). By October 2022, a web-based tool dubbed Digital Sky will also be operational, managing numerous drone-related tasks nationwide. The HL-150, the country's first heavy-lift drone, which is capable of flying 150 kilometers while carrying 150 kg of goods, has the potential to completely reshape Indian logistics. The Ministry of Civil Aviation anticipates initiatives like this to make India the third-largest drone market by 2025 and a drone manufacturing powerhouse by 2030.

The Advantages and Challenges of Drone Delivery
The Indian Council of Medical Research, for example, finished the i-Drone project, which required delivering vital medical supplies to isolated regions of the Northeast, thanks to the ease of navigation. Drones were used to transport 17,275 units of medical supplies over 735 kilometers in just 12 hours. Without drone delivery, this would have required traveling 2,000 kilometers on the road, necessitating overcoming several logistical problems.

Drones can dramatically alter logistics operations, resulting in a faster, more effective, and environmentally friendly way of delivery as well as increased customer satisfaction, even though they might not instantly replace traditional delivery systems

Drone technology may also be a strong contender in the fight against climate change. A survey from the WEF predicts that due to the e-commerce boom, last-mile deliveries will increase by 78 percent by 2030. The 100 largest cities in the world could see an increase in carbon emissions of more than 30 percent as a result of this. Although India ranks third in the world for carbon dioxide emissions, research indicates that road transport accounts for 90 percent of all emissions. Drone delivery is now a more environmentally friendly and energy-efficient alternative to land-based transportation thanks to electric drone-based delivery systems.

Drone Delivery and Last-Mile Logistics
According to projections by Fortune Business Insights, logistics stakeholders are considering these advantages, which is causing the global drone package delivery market to increase from $1.5 billion in 2021 to an expected $31.2 billion by 2028 at a CAGR of 53.94 percent. Global e-commerce behemoths have already begun using drones for delivery and are planning to expand into rural and isolated places. Retailers in the hyper-local delivery market use drones to complete last-mile delivery requests expeditiously. Industry reports indicate that global drone investments have soared to $5 billion in the previous 10 years, with drone manufacturers receiving rising investments as use cases for drones in last-mile logistics grow every day.

Government incentives also promote drone experimentation in India's transportation, healthcare, agricultural, and e-commerce sectors. Drones have only been used for vital deliveries until now, but their commercial use will be a major driver of growth in the coming years. Many e-commerce and food delivery startups and companies are testing drones for middle-mile and last-mile deliveries. Drones are perfect for delivering small, light packages, with a 30-minute estimated round-trip delivery time. Also, clients can track their packages in real-time and benefit from speedy and frictionless delivery because drones are fitted with GPS. According to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, India's drone and drone component manufacturing industry is expected to attract investments totaling more than $ 626 million over the next three years thanks to more than 200 startups in the sector and supportive policies.

Businesses are increasingly looking at drones for delivery solutions, even though there are still some challenges to the widespread use of drone delivery (for instance, the Indian urban sector is not widely spaced, and the rural sector is not well organized, which gives rise to several operational challenges). Drones can dramatically alter logistics operations, resulting in a faster, more effective, and environmentally friendly way of delivery as well as increased customer satisfaction, even though they might not instantly replace traditional delivery systems.

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