Gartner estimates 1 million drones will be running retail deliveries by 2026, compared to 20,000 today.
Currently, DHL, FedEx, UPS and other major carriers have drone delivery operations up and running. While the scale of these deliveries remains limited to pilot operations in certain areas largely due to regulatory constraints, Gartner experts anticipate those roadblocks will be largely overcome by 2025, paving the way for full-scale operations.
But to reach that target within the next six years, companies will need to start investing now, acquiring the drones and establishing the digital infrastructure to operate them, according to the company's note.
In addition, determining which parcels are best carried by drones (drones have lower weight limits) versus conventional trucks requires a careful examination of a shipper's delivery network.