Under the sub-head­ing, “Drone OEMs and oper­a­tors are devel­op­ing a range of meth­ods to get goods from the air­craft to the customer’s front door—or at least close to it,” the respect­ed Research com­pa­ny, McK­in­sey & Co, pub­lished a major report last week on the lat­est devel­op­ments by the drone indus­try to resolve that final hur­dle of deliv­er­ing goods to the purchaser’s front door.

The report states, “The last-metre chal­lenge in drone deliv­ery is real. Play­ers must deal with issues such as safe­ty (both for the pack­age and for peo­ple on the ground), secu­ri­ty after it is deliv­ered, noise, con­ges­tion, and the need to opti­mize net­work deliv­ery nodes—all under reg­u­la­tions that con­tin­ue to evolve. There is no sin­gle solu­tion to address them all, and play­ers are design­ing a range of tech­nolo­gies and approach­es.”

Researched and writ­ten by three of McKinsey’s top ana­lysts, Robin Riedel, Andrea Cor­nell and Bri­an Miller, they take a look at the present four dif­fer­ent approach­es: Teth­er, Para­chute, Dock and Drop, where Teth­er is by far and away the most pop­u­lar method (see image below). They cite drone deliv­ery com­pa­nies Drone­up, Fly­trex, Man­na, Sky­Drop, Wing, Wing­copter, and Zipline, as exam­ples of those who suc­cess­ful­ly use this teth­er-tech­nique.

The report con­tin­ues, “This approach allows pre­cise tar­get­ing, deliv­ery loca­tion flex­i­bil­i­ty, reverse logis­tics poten­tial, and ensures the drone remains safe­ly above peo­ple and objects, though the teth­er equip­ment can add com­plex­i­ty com­pared to oth­er meth­ods. As a result, this method can excel in low­er den­si­ty urban (e.g., row­house rooftops and small gar­dens) and many sub­ur­ban and rur­al envi­ron­ments.”

In choos­ing which approach to take, the research sug­gest var­i­ous evolv­ing fac­tors. These include:-

: Inter­op­er­abil­i­ty and stan­dard­i­s­a­tion.
: Deliv­ery range.
: Evolv­ing reg­u­la­tions.
: Cus­tomer and bystander expe­ri­ence.
: Align­ing growth aspi­ra­tions with deliv­ery capa­bil­i­ties.

(For a full expla­na­tion, please read the report below)

The report con­cludes, “Oper­a­tors may opt for a fleet strat­e­gy, with dif­fer­ent last-metre solu­tions to meet the needs of dif­fer­ent cus­tomer seg­ments and geo­gra­phies. Com­pa­nies could design a sin­gle plat­form that is capa­ble of mul­ti­ple last-metre approach­es. And some may focus on a sin­gle plat­form and method that is ide­al­ly suit­ed for a spe­cif­ic and valu­able seg­ment.”

Adding, “As drone deliv­ery use cas­es and vol­umes con­tin­ue to grow, only time will tell if drone com­pa­nies con­verge to, or diverge from, a sin­gle last-metre solu­tion.”

The Full Report


(Images: McK­in­sey)