Drone Delivery - Flytrex Experienced 7-Fold Increase Last Year?
Dec 04, 2023 Yulin Wang
Flytrex is one of the leading companies in autonomous drone delivery. In 2022, the company reported a 765% increase in deliveries after achieving regulatory approval from the Federal Aviation Agency to begin its automated drone delivery services in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Founded in 2013, Flytrex has made significant efforts in developing their autonomous drones for delivery services. However, as a common barrier for the drone industry, it takes Flytrex a long time before they get the green light from regulatory bodies.
Unlike Flytrex, who are lucky to get approval eventually, many companies are still struggling to achieve regulatory approval. A typical example is Amazon's drone tests. On June 21, 2023, during a pivotal test at the Pendleton site, an Amazon drone made an emergency landing in a field and was destroyed. It is also reported that the drones ignored operators' instructions in another testing, raising critical questions about their reliability. At the end of 2021, Amazon confirmed the reports outlining layoffs at Amazon Prime Air. This was not exciting news and made many people doubt the feasibility of drone delivery in the near future.
Over the past several years, IDTechEx has seen growth in the cumulative investments in the drone delivery industry. However, due to the significant regulatory barriers, IDTechEx has noticed a drastic slowdown in investments over the past two to three years.
Cumulative Funding Trend of Drone Delivery: 2015 to 2022. Source: IDTechEx "Mobile Robotics in Logistics, Warehousing and Delivery 2024-2044"
The IDTechEx market research report, "Mobile Robotics in Logistics, Warehousing and Delivery 2024-2044", reveals that regulation remains one of the biggest market challenges as they vary by country and region. In most countries or regions, there is no clear regulation specifically for autonomous delivery drones. However, one commonality that IDTechEx has spotted is that drones are often not allowed to fly when out of the visual line of sight, meaning that an operator needs to continuously monitor the drone, which brings significant challenges on the large-scale deployment of the drones. Many countries also impose a height limitation, usually 400 feet (~122 meters) or less for drones, unless in some special cases. However, driven by Flytrex's greenlight from regulatory bodies, IDTechEx has seen promise. As one of the earliest pioneers in the autonomous drone delivery industry, Flytrex achieved its regulatory approval after nine years since its foundation. Followed by this trend, as the majority of autonomous drone delivery companies were founded between 2013 and 2015, IDTechEx forecasts that some of them will get regulatory approval between 2022 and 2024, leading to a boost in the market size of this industry.
Predicted timeline of companies getting regulatory approval. Source: IDTechEx
In addition to the regulations, another challenge is the technology, specifically battery and sensory technologies.
Battery life: most drones on the market can fly merely ~30 mins with current battery technologies. This is because the energy consumed during flight will significantly increase with the load increasing. So, increasing the battery capacity without restricting its weight is unrealistic. There are two emerging solutions to this problem: one is to replace Li-ion batteries with fuel cells, which may provide a ten times greater energy/weight ratio; the other solution is to improve the battery technologies. More details of the technical analysis are introduced in IDTechEx's market research report, "Mobile Robotics in Logistics, Warehousing and Delivery 2024-2044".
Sensory technologies: a variety of commonly used sensors have been introduced. These sensors can achieve a certain level of precision in control and flight but may not enable drones to be operated in complicated and very dynamic environments, such as in rainy or gusty weather, in which higher precision in delivery and customer localization and higher resolution in mapping are necessary.
Despite the current challenges, the future market of autonomous drone delivery looks promising, primarily driven by the advancements of batteries, enabling a longer operational time, as well as the increasing likelihood of many drone delivery companies achieving regulatory approval. With the large players joining this industry, for instance, retail giant Walmart started to offer drone deliveries for select customers in Arizona, Florida, and Texas; IDTechEx forecasts that the drone delivery market will take off before the end of this decade.
IDTechEx's report, "Mobile Robotics in Logistics, Warehousing and Delivery 2024-2044", provides analysis of drone technology, a comprehensive comparison between the drone and ground-based robotic delivery, the most recent regulation updates, profiles of major market players, and more. Readers can also find technology and market analysis for other mobile robots used in logistics, such as AGVs, AMRs, mobile picking robots, autonomous trucks, and last-mile delivery robots.
For more information about this IDTechEx report, including downloadable sample pages, please visit www.IDTechEx.com/Mobile.