Whether you own one yourself or have seen them flying overhead, drones have grown exponentially in popularity, both for recreational and business use. While casual users and enthusiasts alike enjoy flying these UAVs around outside, major companies like Amazon, Google, and UPS have all started capitalizing on the drones’ more practical applications in the business market.

The two main highlights of drone delivery thus far are the greatly increased speed at a much lower cost. For those individuals who live within 10 miles or so of a shipping center, they can expect to receive their packages in a matter of minutes (30 or less, on average) rather than days. The fastest shipping option via ground is an overnight turnaround, but the increased demand for same day service puts drone delivery a step above the competition. The price, as well, is considerably lower at an estimated $1 per delivery for shipping juggernaut Amazon. The much higher price point for expedited ground delivery has been a longterm frustration of online shoppers, but drones may just be their saving grace.

While most have shown support for this new method of shipping and an eagerness for its widespread use throughout the industry, some aren’t so fond of this new trend. For one thing, drones are only been able to ship a single package at a time before needing to return to the shipping warehouse to be outfitted for another delivery, making it much less efficient than vans that are loaded up with hundreds of packages at a time. Though their flying radius can extend for miles, not all customers live close enough to shipping facilities for a drone to reach them, and packages that are particularly heavy can also cause issues in air delivery. Most, however, are concerned about the potential for a reduction in jobs that would come from ditching drivers in favor of drones.

The ability to ship packages remotely through the use of manually piloted or automated drones has raised the bar, both in terms of delivery speed and the ability to deliver to remote areas that are otherwise difficult to reach by car or even on foot. Though drones won’t replace ground delivery entirely, and certainly not for many more years, their future in the shipping industry seems very bright.