If you’ve been worrying that drones would be filling the skies over your head, dropping packages off day after day at your neighbor’s house, leaving food on doorsteps or photographing your every move, you can relax a little. At least for now.
The hype over commercial drones is, so far, largely just that. One of the people who contributed to that hype was Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder. In a “60 Minutes” interview in December 2013, he predicted that deliveries by drones could become commonplace within five years.
The fifth anniversary of Mr. Bezos’s prediction has come and gone, but widespread deliveries by drone are not yet a reality, neither by Amazon nor by any other company.
Regulatory thickets, technical complexity and the public’s skittishness have proven to be formidable hurdles. At a minimum, the unresolved issues include whether it is safe to allow drones to fly beyond a pilot’s visual line of sight, to operate at night and to fly over people.
But that doesn’t mean there’s likely to be a drone-free future. And maybe there shouldn’t be.
Test programs around the world that use the technology for lifesaving pharmaceuticals as well as for food and even coffee are attempting to prove that delivery by drones is not only safe, but efficient and environmentally sound.
Several companies, including Zipline, which is distributing blood by drone in Rwanda, and Swoop Aero, an Australian company that is dispensing vaccines and other medication on Vanuatu in the Pacific, are focused on medical needs.
Others are turning their sights on consumers, hoping drones can be part of the answer to helping small businesses compete with behemoth retailers — or even helping the big guys keep their competitive edge.
Ultimately, says the analyst Colin Snow, whether for sunscreen or sushi, the “big question is whether it makes economic sense to do ‘last mile’ delivery by drone. Some studies say yes, while others say no.”
Chinese aviation administrators, for example, have already approved drone deliveries by the e-commerce giant JD.com and delivery giant SF Holding Co. But in the United States, it will depend on whether regulators eventually allow drone companies to have autonomous systems in which multiple aircraft are overseen by one pilot and whether they can fly beyond the vision of that pilot. Current regulations do not permit multiple drones per operator without a waiver. Operators like Wing, the drone-delivery company owned by Google parent Alphabet, have that capability.
But the immediate economic return isn’t clear yet. According to the chief executive of Wing, James Burgess, “scale doesn’t concern us right now. We strongly believe that eventually we will be able to develop a delivery service for communities that will enable them to transport items in just a few minutes at low cost.”
The company, whose drones can now travel round trip up to 20 kilometers — just over 12 miles — is participating in various stages of testing on three different continents. Its first pilot program is in a suburb of Canberra, Australia, where it is working with local merchants to deliver small packages, including over-the-counter medicine, as well as food. The Australian regulators have issued a permit to allow one pilot to operate up to 20 drones at a time with virtual oversight.
“We’ve tried to keep expectations to a minimum and stayed humble. We didn’t have a lot of preconceived notions,” Mr. Burgess said. The Wing drone is a hybrid that includes, yes, wings for horizontal flying, as well as miniaturized propellers — like a helicopter’s — that allow for hovering over a destination. Somewhat surprisingly, the most popular item ordered in the Australia pilot is coffee, which can be received — still hot — in as little as three minutes from the time the order is placed.
This spring, the company will begin a new trial in Helsinki, for which it is soliciting views as to what should be delivered.
Mr. Burgess also said that, separate from drone tests, the company and others were working on a so-called unmanned traffic management system. Akin to virtual air traffic controllers, the system will be designed to permit multiple aircraft — manned and unmanned — to fly safely in the airspace simultaneously. Wing is also one of several companies participating in a pilot program in Virginia. As with its testing in Finland and Australia, Wing will focus on the delivery of consumer goods, including food.
The Virginia site, in Blacksburg, near Virginia Tech, is one of 10 chosen by the Federal Aviation Administration as part of its Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program.
The 10 were culled from 149 applications from “state, local and tribal governments,” agency spokesman Les Dorr said in an email. Those in the industry didn’t apply directly, but could show their interest, he said, and more than 2,800 companies responded.
Wing and Uber are two of the companies participating. But Amazon’s Prime Air division is not among those testing its technology. In a statement issued when the 10 locales were announced last May, the company said, “While it’s unfortunate the applications we were involved with were not selected, we support the Administration’s efforts to create a pilot program aimed at keeping America at the forefront of aviation and drone innovation.”
Amazon’s Prime Air is, however, part of a consortium of companies participating in the European Union’s test of drone deliveries in Belgium.
A number of smaller drone companies are involved in testing programs elsewhere. North Carolina has partnered with Silicon Valley-based Matternet and Zipline to deliver essential medical supplies and laboratory samples. In addition, Israeli start-up Flytrex, which is already delivering goods by drone in Reykjavik in partnership with online Icelandic retailer AHA, will focus on food in Holly Springs, N.C., a fast-growing suburb of Raleigh.
Those in the industry, not surprisingly, say that the response from residents has been positive. A Pew Research Center survey in December 2017, however, found that 54 percent of Americans disapprove of drones flying near homes; 11 percent support drones, while 34 percent favor limits on use.
Part of the reluctance, some say, is concern about privacy and sound. As a result, local governments are trying to educate their residents about drone operation. Noise levels are comparable to dishwashers and cars driving nearby, according to a report by Flytrex.
Privacy concerns are in part alleviated by ensuring that drones do not have forward-facing cameras capable of photographing those on the ground.
While the F.A.A. has chosen the 10 pilots, the programs still need to apply for agency waivers because they will fly beyond the visual line of sight, fly at night and fly over people, fundamentals not allowed under current law. The agency is seeking comments on expanding permissible uses under current law; it is also testing to evaluate the parameters of regulation.
As a practical matter, this means that some of the pilot programs are not yet operational as they await F.A.A. approval.
That’s O.K., said James Pearce, a spokesman for the North Carolina Department of Transportation, which prefers to ensure that the drones can safely fly and that those on the ground are not exposed to any risks, including those that are self-inflicted. “We need to make sure that people know not to try to grab the drones.”
The F.A.A. is making quarterly visits, said Aaron Levitt, the assistant director of engineering for Holly Springs, N.C., and a drone enthusiast. He recently spent several days on a site visit with agency representatives as they prepared for the first phase, which will permit 15 restaurants to send orders to a local athletic complex, and planned for a later phase when the drones will fly beyond the line of sight.
While the deliberate pace may seem slow, Mr. Levitt, like others interviewed, remains sanguine. “It’s like the red flag laws when cars began to populate the roads. You had to have someone walking ahead with a flag to warn others. That’s where we are today with drones — not being able to fly beyond the visual line of sight is like not allowing a car to drive faster than a person can walk.”
While the companies, F.A.A. and local governments test the capabilities and limits, there’s another factor that comes into play. Unlike traditional car or truck deliveries, battery-operated drones don’t rely on fossil fuels for their short flights. A 2018 study in the journal Nature found that electric drones were “far more efficient than trucks, vans, larger gasoline drones, and passenger cars,” when comparing for distance traveled. And though the study found that benefits may be reduced once the electricity used for recharging and warehousing was factored in, drones clearly have less environmental impact than a one-item delivery by car.
The environmental benefits are real, Mr. Burgess said.
Or, as Yariv Bash, the chief executive of Flytrex said: “Now, you’ve got a guy driving a one-ton car bringing a half-pound hamburger. It’s crazy.”B:
【柳】【清】【秋】【也】【不】【好】【直】【接】【拒】【绝】【这】【些】【秀】【女】【的】【拜】【见】，【只】【能】【笑】【着】【和】【这】【些】【姑】【娘】【们】【绕】【着】【弯】【子】，【毕】【竟】【她】【们】【中】【有】【不】【少】【人】【家】【世】【都】【很】【不】【错】，【就】【是】【自】【己】【不】【怕】【她】【们】，【真】【的】【得】【罪】【狠】【了】，【万】【一】【报】【复】【到】【宫】【外】【的】【柳】【家】【人】【身】【上】【就】【不】【好】【了】。 【待】【到】【这】【群】【秀】【女】【离】【开】，【柳】【清】【秋】【觉】【得】【已】【经】【过】【去】【了】【好】【长】【时】【间】，【就】【连】【脸】【都】【笑】【得】【有】【些】【僵】【硬】。 “【娘】【娘】，【要】【不】【要】【奴】【婢】【帮】【您】【揉】【揉】？”
【所】【有】【的】****【如】【同】【潮】【水】【一】【般】【涌】【来】。 【舆】【论】【的】【压】【力】【是】【很】【大】【的】【尤】【其】【是】【对】【于】【现】【在】【的】【枫】【影】。 【海】【小】【满】【捏】【紧】【手】【机】，【想】【到】【了】【什】【么】，【潦】【草】【对】【叶】【承】【说】【了】【句】【有】【事】【就】【急】【匆】【匆】【往】【公】【司】【赶】。 【这】【件】【事】【被】【网】【上】【爆】【出】【来】，【那】【公】【司】【现】【在】【岂】【不】【是】【彻】【底】【乱】【了】【心】。 【这】【个】【节】【骨】【眼】【上】，【简】【直】【是】……… 【她】【咬】【了】【咬】【一】【口】【小】【白】【牙】，【加】【快】【了】【回】【去】【的】【速】【度】。 2016上期开狗下期开什么码【陈】【娇】【一】【度】【以】【为】【自】【己】【眼】【花】【了】。 【可】【是】【娇】【艳】【明】【媚】【的】【女】【人】，【很】【快】【就】【来】【到】【了】【蓝】【樾】【身】【边】。 【唐】【妩】【一】【路】【狂】【奔】，【打】【理】【得】【精】【致】【的】【长】【发】，【略】【显】【凌】.【乱】，【尽】【管】【有】【些】【风】【尘】【仆】【仆】，【但】【仍】【旧】【掩】【饰】【不】【了】【她】【的】【明】**【人】。 【蓝】【樾】【身】【边】【坐】【位】【的】【队】【友】，【看】【到】【唐】【妩】，【连】【忙】【起】【身】【将】【座】【位】【让】【给】【了】【她】。 【唐】【妩】【道】【了】【声】【谢】【谢】【后】，【坐】【了】【下】【来】。 【她】【还】【有】【十】【分】【钟】【时】【间】
【听】【到】【顾】【景】【之】【这】【话】，【贺】【兰】【则】【点】【了】【点】【头】。 【做】【检】【查】【肯】【定】【是】【必】【须】【的】。 【他】【知】【道】【病】【情】【每】【一】【次】【恶】【化】【情】【况】【肯】【定】【就】【有】【所】【改】【变】，【自】【然】【要】【重】【新】【检】【查】【一】【番】。 【贺】【兰】【则】【听】【到】【这】【话】【之】【后】【点】【了】【点】【头】。 “【你】【也】【不】【用】【太】【担】【心】，【凡】【事】【乐】【观】【一】【点】。” 【顾】【景】【之】【也】【不】【知】【道】【怎】【么】【安】【慰】【人】。 【反】【正】【他】【只】【知】【道】，【这】【件】【事】【情】【不】【论】【是】【发】【生】【在】【谁】【的】【身】【上】，【都】【肯】【定】
【听】【到】【他】【说】【的】【是】【正】【事】，【周】【海】【义】【一】【肚】【子】【好】【事】【被】【人】【打】【扰】【的】【火】【气】【便】【忍】【了】【下】【去】，【从】【床】【上】【坐】【直】【靠】【在】【床】【头】，【想】【了】【想】【答】【复】【道】：“【可】【以】。” 【周】【家】【最】【近】【这】【几】【年】【的】【地】【产】【生】【意】【做】【的】【不】【错】，【跟】【土】【地】【局】【的】【人】【已】【经】【有】【十】【几】【年】【的】【交】【情】【了】，【要】【一】【个】【名】【单】【还】【不】【成】【问】【题】，【只】【是】…… “【你】【要】【这】【个】【做】【什】【么】？” 【周】【泽】【宁】【没】【有】【回】【答】【他】【这】【个】【问】【题】，【而】【是】【继】【续】【开】【口】【道】