Delivering packages seems like a task that could be easily automated. But, in fact, it’s complicated. Customers are often not at home to receive packages, and so delivery people need to know if they can leave the package safely and where to leave it, whether they should ring a neighbor’s doorbell instead, and so on. Cities present additional problems, since many buildings don’t have doormen and there are typically multiple apartment units in a single building. For a human, dealing with these challenges is reasonably easy, if annoying. How a drone would deal with them is a bit of a mystery.
The genius of the current system, from the customer’s perspective, is that most of the labor of delivery is performed by the person doing the delivering. If I’m not home when my package arrives, the UPS guy knows to leave it with one of the other people in my building. Or, if none of the neighbors are home, they’ll just come back later. I don’t have to do anything, or commit to being anywhere, to get my package. I order it. It arrives. (That’s what makes the rare cases when this isn’t true—like when the U.S.P.S. guy leaves a notice requesting that I trek down to the post office to pick up a package—incredibly annoying.)
Shifting most deliveries to drones would complicate this picture considerably.