The UK is set to lead the charge in bringing commercial drone deliveries on a mass scale, according to a new European aerospace study by Protolabs.
The study also suggests that over half of people expect drone deliveries to be commonplace by 2023.
It is widely accepted that COVID-19 has given a boost to the drone delivery sector, with testing of the technology accelerated to deliver food and medicine in rural areas.
Protolabs’ ‘Horizon Shift’ report involved 325 aerospace business leaders from across Europe, and notes an increased interest in ‘low space’ innovation as well as more investment into the fast-track testing of robots and drones.
“Covid-19 has brought huge disruption to the global economy, with the aerospace sector being among the hardest hit,” explained Bjoern Klaas, vice president and managing director of Protolabs Europe.
“However, a crisis can act as a catalyst for further innovation, forcing organisations to seek alternative ways to survive in rapidly changing times. Our report shows that right now within aerospace, the ‘low space’ sector is demonstrating agility in its approach to innovation and there is a real appetite to see it work in the UK.
“In fact the UKSA, the government agency responsible for the UK’s civil space programme, just announced a new drive to fund space-enabled technology to strengthen the NHS response to coronavirus. Drone technology can help meet challenges, such as delivering test kits, masks, gowns and goggles, in the management of infectious disease outbreaks.”
He continued: “Commercial drone deliveries are the most likely disruptor and this was reinforced across the duration of our study, which was carried out as the COVID-19 pandemic started to take grip. In just a few weeks, the appetite for this technology increased by 11% to 53%.
“Depending on legislation and advances in technology, it’s feasible that last mile delivery of products, through drones, could reach up to 30% of citizens across Europe. Furthermore, nearly a third of people feel that urban mobility will be a viable mode of transport in the next three years.”