In the Spotlight: Drone Delivery, COVID -19 and Artificial Intelligence

Date: September 23, 2020

Author: Nazneen A

The golden age of drone delivery has begun. Did you know drones and their associated functions are a $50 billion industry by 2023? Industry experts are predicting unprecedented use in previously unimaginable applications with deep-learning now powering these drones. Drone delivery services has become an essential tool in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, helping to create contactless delivery and resilient supply chain services.

The retail industry is leading the way in adopting drone delivery services among both consumers and companies. During the coronavirus pandemic, retail tech giants have started delivering the products at your doorstep, allowing people to buy essential items with contactless delivery or putting delivery people at increased risk. Also, revolutionizing the transportation and delivery system. Readout everything you need to know about the fantastic future of freight.

Top Pioneers in Drone Delivery Business

AMAZON Prime Air

The e-commerce giant took a big leap toward delivering goods from the sky to operate as a drone airline. They have granted approval by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that will allow it to start trailing commercial deliveries via drone, Bloomberg reports.

Also, Meet SCOUT: Amazon’s new six-wheeled autonomous Prime delivery robots. The future of delivery seems to involve fleets of robots from stores onto doorsteps shuffling packages. Robots will begin to replace humans delivering take-out and dropping off parcels. They will lug grocery bags from market to kitchen. The Amazon Blog


The largest retailer Walmart said it has started piloting drone delivery of household items and groceries.The automated drones are from Israeli start-up Flytrex Aviation Ltd. and capable of flying 6.2 miles approx. Carrying packages up to 6.6 lbs (3 kg), according to the company’s website.

First Drone Delivery - A Domino's Pizza

Hello, to drones! And wave good-bye to human delivery drivers. That’s one possibility for the coming decade. One of the Pizza purveyors, Domino’s, has been at the forefront of drone deliveries. Did you know the first pizza drone delivery was carried out in 2016, New Zealand?

Zipline International

Zipline, one of the famous deliveries and logistics company, based in California uses drones to deliver blood supplies in Rwanda, the first who specializes in the delivery of blood and other medical supplies in Africa; allowing to make up to 500 deliveries every single day.


The largest express transportation company is turning their delivery trucks to serve as a drone base, with landing and take-off zone on the roof of their vehicles. Wing, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. - the first drone delivery company to receive Air Carrier Certification from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Wing’s collaborators on this service — FedEx Express, Walgreens, and local Virginia retailer Sugar Magnolia — are the first businesses within the US to supply local air delivery.


UPS, a global leader in logistics, partners with Matternet - announced logistic services for the healthcare system to deliver medical samples to fight covid-19 that are time-saving while supporting social-distancing efforts.

Organs on demand

In a proof-of-concept demo, an organ was flown via drone experienced fewer vibrations than when transported in a fixed-wing plane. For transporting organs overhead drone delivery could, quite literally, be a lifesaver, with safe and timely manner delivery than road-based delays like traffic jams.

Drone technology a holistic solution

Drones are playing a significant role in mapping out a holistic picture built from multiple data sources. Right image processing solutions are in situ and performing nearly as good as ML and DL approach for a few tasks. To accomplish use cases, accelerated integration of multiple data sources will be a game-changer, with the combination of aerial vehicle images, ground-based images and mapped data points. When data acquisition and analytics happen at a high degree of automation, drones can unlock their full potential to efficiently use large data sets as automated and seamless as possible.

Due to the rapid increase in costs of storage, processing power and digital data availability, the utilization of complex AI algorithms have become feasible for drones; the first and solid solutions are already in the market. But companies must consider that drones and AI only add up if it saves the user money/time.

AI-enabled Drone Use Cases

AI Drones in Security Surveillance

Making people’s lives safer and secured, drones play another role in the security and surveillance of people living in unsafe areas or even in habitat environments. Drones are used as a security camera for monitoring the unusual activities outside threats like theft or violence and protest to recognize the people or track their movements.

AI Drone in Agriculture

In agriculture, AI drones are playing a crucial role in monitoring the crops and plants health conditions. Drones are capable of tracking crops, check the soil fertility and help crop protection. They help farmers planting trees by shooting the seedpods into the prepared soil to improve the agricultural sector's productivity and save their cost and time.

AI Drone at Construction sites

In construction companies, drones can scan or map buildings terrain within a few minutes. A human requires several days to complete. As per the construction companies are going to spend more than $11.2 billion on drones in the next five years.

Similarly, real estate companies use drones to get photographs of commercial buildings and homes and aerial maps and information for homebuyers to provide a realistic scenario.

AI Drones in Military and Défense Sector

In the military and defense sector, drones are becoming popular to develop for the unmanned weapons to combat or bombard in the war. However, the drone is already used for food supplies, patrolling on the borders, tracking storms, monitoring security and performing safety inspections.

AI Drone in Smart Cities

Smart cities developed with the most advanced features like well-connected home and equipment systems with control on the user’s palm. Most of the infrastructural amenities are either fully or partially automated with advanced security surveillance used in AI-based cameras to recognize and trace the unwanted objects.

AI Face Recognition Drones

A drone camera is used for face recognition to detect suspicious people or track their face gesture or emotion, tracking humans in societies or at the park from the security perspective. Developing drones for facial analysis needs other level of technology that can train an AI model to detect people using facial attributes.


Considering how far drone technology has come in the last ten years, many of the applications discussed above may be commonplace soon in the coming years. With their reduced cost, higher convenience and less than 30 minutes of delivery time, drones are set to become the future of logistics. One thing is for sure, the aerial imaging market is going to explode. However, how many drones will be deployed? What can drones deliver? Will they ever crash? How often will drone delivery be used? Noise problem? etc…. Let’s wait until this delivery technology runs testing stages as drone technology for commercial use is still in its infancy.

Further Reading

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Camera & IoT

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