Let’s say you want a hamburger.
With a few taps on your phone—no onions, please—the order is placed, with delivery set for within the hour. Soon, your specially wrapped burger appears on the horizon, borne aloft by a humming drone. A retractable door on your rooftop opens to reveal a landing pad and delivery receptacle. The drone places the burger into a box, preferably heated, and a small elevator brings it into the house. “Ding.” Your app alerts you that your burger is warm and waiting.
It’s getting closer: A future where droves of drones buzz through neighborhoods to drop off and pick up groceries, food orders and packages. Architects and builders might have to rethink overall home design to accommodate remote delivery, with drone landing pads mounted on curbside mailboxes, built onto rooftops or perched on windowsills. This, in turn, could reshape entire neighborhoods to include designated drone airspace and traffic patterns designed to ensure the safety of residents.
Drone divisions created by Amazon.com Inc., United Parcel Service and Google’s parent Alphabet Inc. have all received permission from the Federal Aviation Administration for limited deliveries, paving the way for commercial drone service. Amazon Prime Air is testing technology to deliver packages weighing up to 5 pounds in 30 minutes or less. Alphabet’s Wing trials in Christiansburg, Va., allow residents to get deliveries from FedEx Corp. , Walgreens and local restaurants. In Florida, UPS subsidiary Flight Forward and CVS Health Corp. deliver prescription medications to residents of the Villages, the largest retirement community in the U.S.
Still, none of the major players have figured out a seamless way for consumers to receive their deliveries at home. Cargo landing in backyards and driveways raises safety questions regarding both people and packages.