Science and Tech Editor


Ditching the delivery vans, Tesco are now trialling a 30-minute delivery service via drones in Ireland.

Since moving back to Glasgow, I have experienced drones whizzing past my window. It was initially a shock. I spent the rest of the day wondering why someone would possibly want to test their drones down the busy streets of the West End of Glasgow. However, thanks to large corporations such as Tesco and Amazon, drones flying down our busy roads may become a common occurrence.

Tesco is going to trial drone deliveries in County Galway. The trial aims to see whether drones can deliver online orders within 30 minutes of their purchase. The drones will be supplied by a company called Manna, which currently run pharmaceutical deliveries in Ireland.

If the trial is successful, it will allow for quicker deliveries of small baskets around the country. Not only would this help the average lazy person, but it could potentially prevent queues outside of shops, which could become a huge problem this coming winter. For Tesco, it could reduce the costs of deliveries, as they would no longer have to employ drivers or fund the fuels in their vans.

However, Tesco is not the first company to trial drone deliveries. In 2016, Amazon made its first drone delivery in the UK to a resident in Cambridge, only 16 minutes after they had ordered the item. While Amazon has not continued to attempt drone delivery in the UK, they have made steps towards trialling it in the US. This move by Amazon is seen as a marketing coup as the next-day delivery service is no longer viewed as impressive.

The drone delivery trials do not come without controversy. Many residents near to trial areas have complained about the drones being too noisy. Google has tested drone deliveries in Canberra, Australia, where residents have complained about the noise. Approval to test in Canberra comes with a promise to avoid flying in overcrowded areas, main roads, or at night. Despite the negative responses from the residents, the testing was deemed successful, with no risks posed to residents or other aircraft.

The controversy surrounding drones impacting other aircraft has played a vital role in deciding if drone deliveries should go ahead. Airports around the world have had their planes grounded and flights cancelled due to the presence of drones in aerospace. While companies would not purposely put their drones in the way of flight paths, many may be concerned about the possibility of a technological malfunction. Should potential deliveries be prioritised over the safety of flights?

I think drone deliveries could be positive, but I would not trust them initially. Deliveries from the average person often don’t make it to my address, whether it’s because they’ve read the address wrong or rang the incorrect doorbell. While automated systems would rarely read the address wrong, I’d be concerned about finding a delivery if it were to get lost. I am also prone to bulk buying everything - I can’t simply just buy one item from Amazon. It seems unlikely that my large packages could be delivered by a drone, so what’s the point in having two systems for different weighted packages when they could all fit into one van? I don’t think it would work for large corporations due to larger deliveries, but they can prove me wrong.

It may be a while until we find drones dropping off our Tesco shop, but drone deliveries will be slowly introduced into our lives. Manna, the company supplying drones to Tesco, are currently operating in Ireland for pharmaceutical deliveries. GPs have praised this service in Ireland, noting that it is a good addition for rural communities. The likelihood is that the drone trials, at least for pharmaceuticals will expand further afield. So, next time you’re waiting for a delivery, maybe stop checking for the Hermes van to pull up outside and keep your eyes peeled for something a bit smaller.


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