Most innovative uses for drones
Last month, a New Zealand branch of Domino’s began preparations to become the first pizza takeaway service to offer drones as a delivery method.
The pizza giant conducted a demonstration in August. Why New Zealand? With its small population and relatively flat landscape, the nation was one of the first to allow commercial drone deliveries where many other countries still struggle against prohibitive airspace rules.
While Domino’s is confident that drone delivery will become a regular service, the rule that drones must be kept in sight at all times could still prove restrictive, unless this changes.
Drone delivery in the United States is now legal, provided the machines do not cross state lines or over people. Until then, here are some of the novel uses for drones currently occurring or being planned in the rest of the world.
Amazon Prime Air
In June this year, Amazon announced that it would team up with the UK government to test small delivery drones with the view to take orders weighing less than five pounds directly to customers in less than 30 minutes. The service is not yet operational, but Amazon is confident that it will become used worldwide.
DHL was an early player in drone delivery. Earlier this year, it completed a three month trial of its Parcelcopter, which successfully undertook 130 autonomous delivery procedures in varying conditions. The Parcelcopter is set to become commonplace for DHL.
The oil giant is using drones to in some of the biggest energy plants in Europe, since the sector is so high-risk. Many accidents have potentially been avoided thanks to this innovation.
Park rangers in Africa
A drone has been developed which can catch poachers in African national parks using thermal vision technology.
Various TV companies are attempting to utilise drones for filming – however, this hasn’t always worked out well. BBC journalists have previously been questioned after breaching safety protocols, and three Al Jazeera reporters were arrested when their drone was spotted trespassing.
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IMF: Variants Can Still Hurt Manufacturing Recovery
After a year of on-and-off manufacturing in the US, UK, and the eurozone, demand for goods surged early last week. Factories set growth records in April and May, suppliers started to recover, and US crude hit its highest price point since pre-COVID. As vaccination efforts immunise much of the US and UK populations, manufacturers are now able to fully ramp up their supply chains. In fact, GDP growth could approach double-digits by 2022.
Now, the ISM productivity measure has surpassed the 50-point mark that separates industry expansion from contraction. Since U.S. president Biden passed his US$1.9tn stimulus package and the UK purchasing managers index (PMI) increased to 65.6, both sides of the Atlantic are facing a much-welcomed manufacturing recovery.
Lingering Concerns Over COVID
Even as Spain, France, Italy, and Germany race to catch up, and mining companies pushed the FTSE 100 index of list shares to a monthly high of 7,129, some say that UK and US markets still suffer from a lack of confidence in raw material supplies. Yes, the Dow Jones has made up its 19,173-point crash of March 2020, and MSCI’s global stock index is at an all-time high.
Yet manufacturers around the world realise that these wins will be short-lived until pandemic supply chain bottlenecks are solved. If we keep the status quo, consumers will pay the price. In April, inflation in Germany reached 2.4%, and across the EU’s 19 member countries, overall prices have increased at an unusual pace. Some ask: Is this true recovery?
IMF: Current Boom Could Falter
Even as Elon Musk tweeted about chip shortages forcing Tesla to raise its prices, UK mining demand skyrocketed; housing markets lifted; and the pound sterling gained value. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), however, cautioned that manufacturing recovery won’t last long if COVID mutates into forms our vaccinations can’t touch. Kristalina Georgieva, Washington’s IMF director, noted that fewer than 1% of African citizens have been vaccinated: “Worldwide access to vaccines offers the best hope for stopping the coronavirus pandemic, saving lives, and securing a broad-based economic recovery”.
Across the globe, manufacturing companies are keeping a watchful eye on new developments in the spread of COVID. Though US FDA officials don’t think we’ll have to “start at square one” with new vaccines, the March 2021 World Economic Outlook states that “high uncertainty” surrounds the projected 6% global growth. Continued manufacturing success will in large part depend on “the path of the pandemic, the effectiveness of policy support, and the evolution of financial conditions”.
Mathias Cormann, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) concurred—without global immunisation, the estimated economic boom expected by 2025 could go kaput. “We need to...pursue an all-out effort to reach the entire world population”, Australia’s finance minister added. US$50bn to end COVID across the world, they imply, is a small investment to restart our economies.