Cdiscount is the latest marketplace to be playing with drones, they aim to have a proof of concept demonstration by next year with the first working prototype in place by 2019.
Click and Collect by drone
Unlike Amazon and their ilk, CDiscount aren’t aiming to deliver to consumer’s homes and offices. Instead Cdiscount are considering using drones to drop products up to 5kg in weight to local collection centres. Rather than undertaking last mile deliveries in rural areas which up until now has been the main focus of drone testing, Cdiscount want you to be able to make a purchase and then the product will be made available in a relatively short space of time as the drone leaves a warehouse to fly to a location near you.
This approach has numerous benefits – no worries about landing or drop zones as locations will be pre-selected in advance and no concerns over whether anyone will be at home to retrieve the package as there will always be staff at the collection points. Cdiscount approach is all about speedy delivery to a click and collect location and the only question will be can the drone race to the appointed spot before you can get there by car, on foot or by public transport.
Stock Checking by drone
Cdiscount are also working on a second drone application – the ability to do a stock check with drones instead of humans.
The idea is to create an indoor geolocation net with sensors and beacons and then instead of a human scanning stock, a drone can fly past and do a stock check overnight with the data being injected straight into the companies Warehouse Management System with no human intervention.
There are a number of obstacles to overcome – how to precisely locate a drone’s position within the confines of a warehouse and then how will it accurately count stock as it hovers in front of a warehouse shelf, a pallet or a rack of clothing.
RFID tags spring to mind as one way that a drone could more easily stock check, but regardless how Cdiscount solve the actual stock counting issue, it’s an interesting use of drone technology.
Will we ever widespread adoption of drone deliveries in the UK
There’s little doubt that some edge cases such as Amazon’s drone testing in Cambridgeshire may eventually seen drone deliveries to outlying properties. Similarly UPS’ application of a drone deployed from a delivery truck to make a delivery while the driver makes a second delivery could come to pass.
The reality is that much of the UK population live in locations where drones delivery would be either extremely difficult or nigh on impossible to undertake. Applications such as drone delivery to click and collect points or for stock taking inside a warehouse seem eminently more likely in the sort term.