After a spate of false starts in late 2013, with companies such as Amazon and DHL launching flying delivery drone prototypes, there was a considerable public reaction, a mix of disbelief, disdain and even dismissal. However, some onlookers wondered whether this might indeed be the future of expedited express delivery.
Months on from the original hype the UAE has revealed plans to use very similar four-rotor drones which, it claims, could conduct unmanned deliveries of official documents such as passports and driving licences within a year.
However, many of the issues that were raised when this idea first came to light have again been levelled at Abdulrahman Alserkal, the engineer who designed the project and cabinet affairs minister Mohammed al Gergawi, who presented the project. The problem of security will, apparently, be solved by the application of finger print and retina identification technology which would allow only the intended recipient to receive the goods.
Questions of reliability, flight control and safety remain unanswered while beyond these issues the spectre of civil air regulations looms large.
Whether or not this will become a reality is something that only time will tell, though one suspects it may take rather more than a year to become operational and economical. You can find out more about how drones could be used in e-commerce deliveries at Ti’s Emerging Market Conference in Dubai.