The United States is facing many transport infrastructure problems. Potholes and cracks in roads are common in high-traffic areas, and fixing them can significantly cause disruptions leading to traffic congestion.
Congestion is costly to commuters and businesses relying on these roads to deliver goods and products.
The Trucks article “Drone Infrastructure More Cost-Effective Than Traditional Delivery” says that these traffic delays cost the US economy more than $120 billion per year.
Fixing the country’s roads, tunnels, bridges, and everything that constitutes the traditional transportation infrastructure will be twice its annual road maintenance budget of $105 billion and will take 6 years of this level of spending to achieve an acceptable level of service (Drone Infrastructure, 2022).
However, a cheaper alternative uses drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). This relatively new delivery method can take the pressure off the roads and the whole transport network.
In fact, many businesses inside and outside of the United States have been utilizing drones for delivery.
According to Insider Intelligence, the first pizza delivery via drone happened in New Zealand in November 2016. Domino’s pizza partnered with drone delivery Flirtey to deliver the pizza.
Successful delivery of Peri-Peri Chicken Pizza and a Chicken and Cranberry Pizza took place at a customer’s door at 11:19 am in Whangaparaoa, New Zealand (Why Amazon, 2022).
A White House fact sheet showed that 173,000 miles, accounting for 20% of the total US highways, are in poor condition. Also, 45,000 bridges are in a decrepit state.
To address the problem, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, or the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed under the Biden-Harris administration has earmarked $110 billion of new funds for infrastructure repairs and upgrades (Rein, 2021).
Rein (2021) further says:
- The significant amounts of money needed to upgrade the nation’s traditional infrastructure tell of the enormous challenges of maintaining them.
- These infrastructures are resource-intensive and demand constant and costly upkeep, yet funding is not always enough to cover all the needed costs.
- Insufficient maintenance of these infrastructures is also affecting businesses billions of dollars annually.
- Advances in technology and connectivity make the use of drones for delivery possible and a cheaper alternative.
- Components necessary to support the widespread uptake of drone infrastructure include vertiports or the launch pads for drones, charging stations, and receiving vessels for delivery destinations.
- These components are already available and exist in the United States, and many businesses are already using them.
- The next step would be to develop an Unmanned Traffic Management system to guide drones around the airspace, keep it from obstacles, and develop specific aviation regulations to manage drone traffic and perhaps avoid accidents or crashes with other drones.
- The IIJA has appropriated $500million for drone projects known as the Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) grant program.
The grant will come from a newly created Department of Transportation (DOT) “Office of Multimodal Infrastructure and Freight “for demonstration projects focused on the advanced smart city or community technologies and systems to improve transportation efficiency and safety” (Rein, 2021).
Developers of drone technology should take advantage of the program. But the full implementation and widespread uptake of the drone delivery system will satisfy extensive technical and regulatory concerns.
The article highlights that the widespread uptake of drone technology will benefit businesses and consumers and even decongest roads and highways.
Drone Infrastructure More Cost Effective Than Traditional Delivery. (2022 March 23). Trucks. Retrieved from https://www.trucks.com/2022/05/23/drone-infrastructure-cost-effective/
Why Amazon, UPS and even Domino’s are investing in drone delivery services. (2022, April 15). Insider Intelligence. Retrieved from https://www.insiderintelligence.com/insights/drone-delivery-services/
Rein, W. (2021 December 9). Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Makes Fund Available for Drone Projects. JDSupra. Retrieved from https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/infrastructure-investment-and-jobs-act-2239715/