Why Drones Actually Can't Deliver Packages to Homes

Why Drones Actually Can't Deliver Packages to Homes

Current availability of technology and FAA regulations mean that, contrary to e-commerce company announcements, drones aren't able to deliver packages by air.

Key findings

The technology currently available (in 2016) does not allow packages to be delivered due to battery life and drone weight constraints. The author describes the restrictions: "For a 30-minute flight, a drone's overall weight (drone + batteries + package) must be 20 times that of the package alone. The batteries' weight accounts for most of that. For a five-minute flight, the overall weight has to be only 1.5 times that of the package. The drone will not be able to fly more than 32 minutes, and at that time, it will not be able to carry any package whatsoever."

"When Amazon tells you they will be able to deliver a five-pound package to you in 30 minutes, they really mean that they will not be able to fly the drone for more than 15 minutes to you, and 15 minutes back (including takeoff and landing time), at speeds of no more than 40 mph, and not until they have a drone that weighs 20 times what the package weighs. Delivering a five-pound package will require a 100-pound drone. The FAA restricts drone weight to 55 pounds, which means one that can fly 15 minutes to you and 15 minutes back with only a 2.75-pound package."

"Delivering a five-pound package to your home based on current drone technologies is not yet anywhere close to becoming a reality. At least not until electric motor efficiency and battery capacity technologies make significant leaps. Unfortunately, they have not made dramatic improvements over the past few decades."

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