Friday, January 23, 2015

New Freight Delivery System Works (sometimes) for the Dark Side of Logistics

Drones - an apology (a la Private Eye)
Shipping News Feature

US – MEXICO – It must be confessed that, in the past, we have been a little, shall we say, sceptical, as to the value of drones as a key component in the logistics supply chain. As a freight delivery system the drawbacks of unmanned hunks of metal flying blindly across cities simply seemed to us a series of lawsuits waiting to happen, not to mention a magnet for every potential thief with an airgun or catapult.

However, it would seem our thinking was a little too lateral in this case, there is in fact one sector with a foot firmly in a branch of the supply chain for whom the drone is proving a success, if not actually an unqualified one. Just as wars produce huge technical leaps, so too can crime it seems as the latest find by Tijuana police demonstrates.

Not only have drones been swiftly adopted by would be drug smugglers as a method of transferring contraband across borders but, as the latest find shows, some advanced engineering is producing custom built equipment capable of carrying far greater loads than hitherto.

The six bladed copter in the photograph crashed into a supermarket car park near San Ysidro, a town in San Diego lying only a thousand or so metres across from the US – Mexican border. The cargo of choice in this case was a whole three kilogrammes of methamphetamine which it seems proved a little too much for the craft in question.

With increased lift capacity and GPS programming the vehicle is an ideal craft for the smugglers who can remain distant from the actual drugs until they arrive at the appointed destination, or not as in this case. Drones have apparently replaced model aircraft as the modern delivery system and with companies such as DHL and Amazon already testing things such as iPhone guided drones and octocopters it seems the unorthodox vehicles may have found their niche market despite our initial cynicism.