BY GARRY WALDEN ON MAY 16, 2019
In the future, we will see driverless vehicles deploying remotely controlled drones delivering packages to top floors of multi-story housing and commercial industry complexes.
As I look up into the sky from downtown Long Beach and imagine the coming wave of progress and technology that is currently being cultivated in our business community, I can’t help but think about a future just above our city streets and below our skylines where drones have become commonplace as they buzz above our roadways from point to point making deliveries throughout our various communities of commerce.
This idea of imagination has come one step closer to becoming a reality as Federal law signed into effect last year under the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018 (Public Law 115-254) authorizes, by October 2019, businesses designated as “air carriers” to deliver goods to consumers via drones.
“Public Law 115-254 reauthorizes funding of the FAA through Sept. 30, 2023, and addresses a number of aviation-related areas including unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or drones. This is the first long-term FAA reauthorization since 2012 signed into law. Other attempts to pass this bill have ended in continuing resolutions. The act requires the FAA to update its regulations within one year to allow the use of drones in the U.S. airspace for the carriage of private property, such as packages. Up until the recent passage of Public Law 115-254 federal regulations prohibited drone deliveries.” (see citation)
So what does this all mean for Long Beach, and more specifically, our areas of commerce where drones would most likely be commissioned to do their work?
Commerce locations will likely be an initial application for drone delivery
Studies have shown that drone delivery is most efficient and effective (see citation) when deployed to make deliveries that can be executed within 30 minutes or less, so for example, a local offshore drilling platform could benefit from the deployment of drone delivery for vital medications, or emergency interventions, as well as, serving to deliver blueprints, legal briefs, or even something as simple as lunch, dinner, or a midnight snack, but regardless of the many applications that drones could serve, and the millions of possibilities that they bring to our future ways of conducting commerce, one thing for sure is that drones will soon become an integral part of our lives as we explore the many possibilities that they will bring to future commerce.
With the development of Shoreline Gateway, Long Beach’s soon to be tallest building at 32 stories, as well as, the One World Trade Center building to the west, at 30 stories, and Signal Hill to the North, this triad of distinction could play a vital role in the development of drone delivery in our downtown districts. Of course, the scenarios are endless, speculative, and considerations over crime and safety abound, but one thing that is for sure, drones are here to stay and will need places to continuously land, recharge, and deploy…
Energy, aviation, and robotics technology will be key roles in drone support
As we explore the multitude of possibilities that will emerge out of an increasing need for small package drone landing platforms a-top businesses and housing complexes. Experts will be needed in electrical engineering, construction, aviation, logistics, and the likes, all involved in the development and construction of processes that grow to support an emerging driverless vehicle and remotely controlled transport services industry.
Up until present day, popular forms of transportation and movement have been driven by fossil fuels, i.e. gasoline and jet fuels, but with the emergence of driverless vehicle and drone technology, we could soon see an emerging industry completely driven by electrical energy and power, thus paving the way into a post-fossil fuel era of operation, and ultimately, a potential win-win for commerce and ecological restoration.
Urban areas logistically favorable for testing smart city technology
So when I think about the future of commerce in Long Beach, and particular, the emergence of driverless vehicles and drone technology, I imagine a world in which Long Beach will be at the forefront of this industry.
If one were to take a look at a map and observe closely our downtown grid pattern, they would soon discover that our urban commerce areas, in particular, are prime for creating “smart city” applications that can go into supporting all of these new technologies.
To some, this may seem like a fantasy and some ways it is, as I reflect on Fritz Lang’s 1927 production of the sci-fi futuristic movie, “Metropolis,” where he lays out his ‘fantasy’ depiction of our future metropolis, that now appears to become more of a reality every day.