environmentally friendly drone delivery

Can Amazon create environmentally friendly drone delivery?

Is there actually a such thing as environmentally friendly drone delivery? There is, but it’s not the guarantee that you might think. As big players like Amazon introduce drone delivery with the promise of shipments in two hours or less, people are primed to think they’re doing a good thing for the environment (as opposed to traditional truck or plane deliveries that require immense amounts of gasoline).

But Amazon drone delivery may not actually be as environmentally friendly as you might think.

I dug into the environmental aspect of drone delivery in a guest post for Callaway Climate Insights, which reports on the intersection where the world’s financial markets meet innovation, science and public policy, and is founded by David Callaway, former editor-in-chief of USA Today and MarketWatch.

And I found that in many ways, Amazon drone delivery is indeed good for the environment. But not always. Experts fear that drone delivery will encourage small or single-item orders, which is one of the worst aspects of delivery for the environment. And drones are only capable of delivering one (or a few) items at a time. If everyone in an apartment building is getting one item delivered, suddenly 100 little drones are doing what one truck could have done — and the latter would have been better for the environment. Not to mention, faster deliveries require more energy-intensive infrastructure. That means more warehouses to store the drones. More landing pads and auto-locking drone mailboxes.

It’s been a landmark year for drone delivery, especially as coronavirus brings about need for more contactless delivery as people stay at home. But it’s important to consider that everything comes at a cost — and there is some environmental cost to Amazon drone delivery.

Read my entire analysis over at Callaway Climate Insights.


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