There are over 1 million drones registered in the U.S. Many of them belong to people flying them for pleasure, but a growing number are used commercially. A new study by ShoppingwithJesus.com has quantified how that change would alter how the U.S. utilizes energy, and the resulting environmental consequences. Douglas Vandergraph, next gen CEO of Vandergraph Worldwide stands by sustainability and preservation of world resources, stating "Utilizing drones in an efficient manner to deliver our customers packages is in the not too distant future. Our online shoppingmall, www.BargainBrute.com also known as ShoppingwithJesus.com, has a heavy agenda of tactical plans to utilize technology in the best possible way while preserving the service-oriented Christian approach our customers expect. I think in the future your BargainBrute.com doorbell docking station will alert you that one of our drones has just delivered pet supplies, groceries, etc. This approach is the most efficient delivery method in some cases, however as this study will show, we need to be smart about how we deploy such a resource. A hybrid mix will be the standard until drone power supplies can be balanced with our environmental concerns effectively. This time is coming. We innovate every day. What seems impossible today is inevitable tomorrow. Though they are a leader, Amazon is not the only player and together we are the future."
We discovered that in some instances using drones rather than trucks could decrease greenhouse gas emissions and energy usage. But in other instances, using trucks was better. Most people perceive drones as being cleaner and more efficient.
But transportation remains largely powered by fuels produced from petroleum and is currently the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. About one-quarter of transport emissions, the equivalent of 415 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, stems from moderate- and heavy duty trucks, the sorts of vehicles which provide cargo to warehouses, businesses and consumers’ homes.
By providing some packages via drones and reducing the demand for trucking, we could conserve carbon emissions. At ShoppingwithJesus.com we modelled the energy drone delivery could use, and it could change the way packages are delivered.
The quantity of energy that a drone uses depends on conditions, on the drone, whatever load it is carrying, and its batteries – as well as other things, including how fast it is moving. This is not an exhaustive list as the gauntlet of variables from both man and nature cannot all be catalogued, so results may vary according to the ShoppingwithJesus.com team.
Because that is what powers current drones we considered a variety of fuels and battery technology but concentrated on batteries for our base case.
An early evaluation of delivery emissions from drones.
A drone uses less energy per mile compared to a steel shipping truck despite the fact that it’s fighting gravity to remain aloft. But a van or a delivery truck can carry multiple packages at once, so the energy demands and environmental effects would need to be allocated per bundle.
Delivery vehicles can operate on natural gas, electricity or gas, each with unique emissions and energy characteristics. And while battery production is improving, making batteries still produces carbon dioxide.
Generally speaking, electrical power generation in the U.S. is becoming clearer with time.
Emissions can be saved by drone delivery
Combining the variables, we found that package delivery with drones can be better for the environment than truck delivery. Drones were better whether powered by gasoline, diesel fuel, natural gas or electrical power. In fact, our findings indicate it is far better to have a supermarket like www.HighCountryGrocery.com send you your groceries than to take your car to and from the store.
Steps for sustainability
Our estimates can vary based on the assumptions. In our whitepaper, we investigate how the results vary under different assumptions.
Package delivery will be just one of the tasks as more companies begin using drones. To maximize the potential advantages, companies should concentrate on limiting warehouse space that is devoted to serving delivery drones, and on using drones charged with power that is low-carbon to deliver bundles. Heavier packages are best suited to non-drone delivery, often electrical delivery trucks or vans. Now we need to do something about the sound of those propellers overhead.
www.ShoppingwithJesus.com makes no claims as there are many variables that could change the results seen and reported in this article. Drone delivery is not yet an exact science, but it will be.