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A drone hop from the local shop? Where could drone delivery as a service happen in Europe and the USA, and how many people could benefit from it?

Publication date
STRIA Roadmaps
Smart mobility and services (SMO)
Transport sectors
Freight transport

The rapid technological and regulatory evolution in the field of autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV or drones) may soon open the way for their deployment in the last mile delivery of products. This has the potential to decrease delivery costs, reduce transport externalities caused by road traffic and reduce missed-deliveries. It could thus become a disruptor to the parcel delivery industry and for this reason several transport and delivery companies are piloting experiments involving drones. Yet a detailed analysis of the market potential of this system is still only partly available in the literature.

To bridge this gap, this paper tries to quantify the proportion of the population, both in Europe and the USA that could benefit from drone-delivery services.

Results indicate that under the conditions considered drone delivery services could be financially viable in the Europe and in the USA, where they could serve between 16 and 43% and between 32 and 60% of the population respectively. These results indicate the viability of this industry in the near future, highlighting that the existing geographical distribution of populations has a significant influence and will likely drive the choice of the first deployments.