Growing adoption of drone technology across the UK’s transport and logistics sector could drive a GDP boost of £1.2bn by 2030 according to new research from PwC which also shows that delivery drones could become the norm in the same time period.
Of the 76,000 drones expected to take to UK skies over this period, as many as 11,000 could be employed in the transport and logistics sector alone according to the report.
Charlie Johnson-Ferguson, PwC’s transport and logistics leader, said that once the technology went mainstream its benefits could be huge. “The impact of autonomous vehicle technology on the transport and logistics sector has not yet begun to be felt and statistics would suggest that for some, unmanned aerial vehicles are seen as more of a toy or experiment than a cost-effective tool. But as businesses gain experience with this technology, we expect to see a swift shift in adoption.”
The report also outlines the potential of drones for delivery – suggesting delivery drones could become business as usual by 2030. Large retail and logistics companies are investing in delivery drones with the aim of achieving increased efficiency, lower costs, and increased customer satisfaction.
“The scope of delivery drones could also be beyond dropping off parcels in the ‘last mile’ of client logistics,” says PwC. “Drones will be ubiquitous in warehousing and able to autonomously conduct real time stock checks by scanning inventory. This will integrate seamlessly with other ground-based autonomous warehouse robotics in an end-to-end management and movement of inventory driven by AI with no human touch.
Delivery drones could also integrate with other advances in technology, for example a driverless vehicle, loaded with parcels by robotics at the warehouse that automatically dispatches multiple delivery drones when it nears the most efficient point to complete its deliveries. Such a vehicle would serve as a base station for the drones providing charging and payload swapping as required. This scenario is some way off, as current technical and regulatory challenges remain such as flying pilotless and beyond visual line of site (BVLOS) in congested urban areas and integrating with other airspace users,” says the report.
Economic impact of drones in the UK (2030)
|Transport and logistics
|GDP uplift in 2030
|No. of drones
|Net cost of savings
|Multifactor productivity uplift 3
Table source: PwC
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