Guest Column | December 15, 2016

The Drone Revolution


By Gary Hawkins, founder and CEO, CART

The use of drones for delivering online purchases is quickly attaining takeoff speed as the technology continues to rapidly evolve, major companies test solutions, and the key players work with the government (the FAA) to establish flight rules. Many in the retail industry see drone technology as fanciful rather than formidable, but this is changing as both drone economics and capabilities come more into focus.

Until recently, an operator was required to have line of sight to the drone so as to pilot it around any obstacles like buildings or trees. But now artificial intelligence and machine learning have made drones ‘smart,’as they are able to guide themselves around anything in their path, including other drones.

Putting its stamp of credibility on this emerging technology, UPS has partnered with CyPhy Works to test the use of drones for making deliveries to remote or access-challenged locations. In one recent test, a drone flew a 3-mile route over the Atlantic Ocean to make a medical supply delivery to a children’s camp on an island offshore.[1] While UPS does not see drones taking the place of its ubiquitous delivery trucks any time soon, the company is working with CyPhy Works to better understand the costs and operations of drones with an eye toward beginning to make use of the technology where it makes sense.