Deliveries by Drone: Obstacles and Sociability

Part of the Information Technology and Law Series book series (ITLS, volume 27)


The current desire of retailers and vendors to have goods delivered via drones to individuals within an urban environment is in its early stages. Providing near ubiquitous delivery services to customers is an outcome of a desire for delivery optimization and customer satisfaction that may be anything but optimizing or satisfying. Those subjected to the fleet of drones coming to their neighborhoods will need to yield within urban public spaces to enable this type of disruption innovation to take hold. People may have to change the way that they “look out” as they walk within cities, looking not just “both ways” before crossing a street, but upwards as well. Noise may cause stress to an already stressed environment, and wildlife, particularly birds, will have to change their instinctive habits in order to accommodate the retailers’ goals of faster and faster delivery times. Part of the fabric of a community are the social relations that are maintained in a steady, regular way by the delivery couriers and carriers who build relationships with members of a community as a by-product of the nature of being in a job that requires them to spend time in a neighborhood on a daily basis, interacting with its inhabitants. Drone delivery could remove this type of community knowledge—this silent glue of communities—and change the way knowledge is created in our local urban environments. Sociability is crucial when automating a social system and drones are no exception. Drones will need to be social with people and with each other in order to negotiate and navigate crowded airspace. However, the knowledge they collect will be content without context, interaction, or sociability. This chapter examines the factors of what is required for delivery drones to become a viable presence in public space and to successfully integrate with people, wildlife, transportation, and social systems.


Community Sociability Wildlife Social systems Public space E-commerce Security Transportation Delivery services Regulation 


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Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser press and the authors 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Social Anthropology and ComputingUniversity of KentCanterburyUK

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