Drones could account for 30 per cent of same-day package deliveries by 2040 as unmanned technology and network scale dramatically bring down costs, according to L.E.K. Consulting.
While security and privacy concerns still see the UK drone market’s wings clipped, a mounting body of evidence suggests the technology will be worth billions to the national economy in the near-future.
Previously, for example, PwC research suggested that by 2030 the skies above Britain will be a very different place – estimating that, rather than today’s chaotic swarm of private toys, there will be a highly coordinated hive of more than 76,000 sophisticated drones performing all manner of tasks. The commerce this supports could provide a shot in the arm worth £21 billion to UK GDP.
With the quieter skies of the Covid-19 lockdown, meanwhile, the technology has found space to accelerate its growth and development over the last year or so.
The exact market share will depend on how transport operators configure their networks and the comparable cost of transporting goods through road-based methods, L.E.K. said in a report Monday. Drones aren't likely to replace traditional trucking but will add to existing logistics systems to avoid congestion.
While using drones to carry people and freight are being considered, it's the transport of cargo by remote pilots or autonomous technology that has attracted the attention of the world's biggest companies. Amazon.com Inc and Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com Inc have both talked up the prospect of deploying drones for deliveries on a large scale, while Alphabet Inc's Google this month sought approval to use them to research firefighting.
Drones have the advantage of being able to take off and land vertically, requiring less space than planes or helicopters, and the industry could be worth several billion dollars in a country like Australia, L.E.K. said.
But a number of hurdles remain, including building sufficient scale that it becomes more cost effective than a taxi or van, as well as community acceptance of the aircraft flying above cities and homes.