Problem Definition

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Click here to see our old idea from week 1.

This here is our final problem definition for which the rest of the project develops around.


There have been major changes in the delivery of packages in the course of time. These changes can be observed in the goods transported, the globalization of the market, the needs of customers, the different services offered by carriers, and importantly the means of transportation that carriers employ. The end stage of package delivery has varied from delivery by carriage in the early days of package delivery to trucks nowadays. [1] Moreover, the future of package delivery has already given notice. Amazon and Google are both working on a drone delivery service. [2][3] Amazon even claims to be ready to implement their Prime Air service as soon as the FAA grants permission.[2] These drone deliveries, however, are still limited to express under 30 minute deliveries. [2]

It is not that hard for one to see a future in which the majority of package deliveries are carried out by drones when looking at these recent developments. Especially when taking in mind that Amazon’s chief executive Jeff Bezos already claims the service to be able to carry packages up to 2.3 kilograms, which covers 86% of the items Amazon delivers.[4] Amazon also expects that ‘One day, Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today.’.[2]

One major problem that arises immediately is where packages should be delivered would drones take over large part of the package deliveries. In package delivery by truck the driver rings the bell and hands the package over. When no one is at home, he takes the package with him again. Drones will probably not be able to ring the doorbell and it cannot be the intention to fly the package back and try again at a later time, because drones still only carry one package, whereas in trucks a single package is just one of many.

Packages could just be around people’s houses. The drone has than delivered its package and the buyer has received it. This is a possibility, although it would be easy to steal package when they are not taken inside quickly enough by the buyer. Also an issue is that most of the people that have packages delivered live in a city or crowded urban area in apartments or multi-living complexes. Deliveries are then difficult and if drones were to just drop packages off at door steps, then there is a higher likelihood that packages could be stolen.

The main problem is thus: Where and how can drone delivery securely reach its many customers? More specifically: Where can a drone drop-off a package that can then be securely retrieved by the designated individual?
This problem can be addressed via personal drone drop-offs, creating a technology that allows drones to ring doorbells, and many more. Issues about safety, security and personalization listed above has caused us to think a lot.

To address this problem, we have decided to design a package mailbox for drone delivery which can be used to reach the public.

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