Drones Bearing Parcels Deliver Big Carbon Savings

Last-mile delivery by a small drone takes much less energy per package than delivery by diesel truck

Drones that fly packages straight to people’s doors could be an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional modes of transportation.

A study comparing the environmental impact of various ‘last-mile’ delivery methods — which take a package on the final leg of its journey — finds that greenhouse-gas emissions per parcel were 84% lower for drones than for diesel trucks. Drones also consumed up to 94% less energy per parcel than did the trucks. The research, published on 5 August in the journal Patterns, indicates that using drones to deliver medication and other small items could cut the environmental impact of product deliveries.

In the United States, freight transportation accounts for more than one-third of transportation-related greenhouse-gas emissions. Major companies such as Amazon have been experimenting with using drones and robots to deliver packages with an eye to reducing their environmental impact.


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