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Drone delivery guidelines

Supporting nationally consistent infrastructure and planning decisions for drone delivery services.

The Australian Government has developed infrastructure planning guidelines to support the safe, secure and environmentally-considerate integration of drones and electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles into communities and broader transport networks.


Productivity benefits

The drones and emerging Advanced Air Mobility sector will create new jobs, industries and markets, with the capacity to connect our cities and regions using less capital investment than other transport modes.

  • Drones are expected to save between $320 and $525 million by 2040 for parcel, food and medical deliveries.
  • The demand for food deliveries by drones in Australia is estimated to range from 46 to 65 million trips in 2040, with an average cost per delivery of $1.49 (Deloitte 2020).


Public perceptions

A demographically and geographically representative survey of the Australian population offers valuable insights into public perceptions of drone delivery services (iMove 2023).

  • Out of 1,000 respondents asked about their level of interest in drone delivery services, 50.8% indicated some level of interest, 23.2% remained neutral, and 25.9% indicated some level of disinterest (Figure 1).
Figure showing level of interest in drone delivery services
Figure 1: Level of interest in drone delivery services
  • Respondents were also asked about their level of interest in using drone delivery services. Of the 51.6% of respondents that indicated they are somewhat likely or highly likely to use drone delivery services, approximately half (50.7%) indicated they would use the service once a fortnight or more frequently.
  • Sixty-three per cent indicated that they support the use of small-scale drones where they offer value, which increased to 79% for specialised high value cases, such as medical deliveries.
  • In relation to the statement, “I don’t want to see drones commercially deployed in practice at all”, 23% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed, 39% neither agreed or disagreed, and 28% disagreed or strongly disagreed (Figure 2).
Figure showing level of support towards small-scale drones being used for commercial applications
Figure 2: Level of support towards small-scale drones being used for commercial applications

Respondents’ preferences for different delivery methods and items across market segments are illustrated in Table 1.

Table showing preferred delivery method and item of different market segments
Table 1: Preferred delivery method and items across different market segments
Community concerns

The survey also measured relative level of community concern about the potential impacts of small-scale drones.

  • It found ‘invasion of privacy’, ‘disturbance to wildlife’ and ‘safety risks to the general public’ were the most concerning factors, while ‘noise pollution’, ‘disturbance to cultural sites’ and ‘reduce the beauty of the sky’ were the least concerning factors
  • Some of the keywords mentioned more frequently when respondents were asked open-ended questions regarding the relative challenges of increased small-scale drone uptake for their community were ‘privacy’, ‘noise’, ‘invasion’, ‘safety’ and ‘jobs’ (iMove 2023).


Responsible governance

The department will continue to engage with the public to address community concerns related to the increased uptake of drones in Australia. The department is progressing a range of policies and initiatives to ensure the sector develops in a manner that is safe, secure and considerate of the community and the environment.

Consultation timeline

The drone delivery guidelines were developed through extensive public, industry and government consultation to ensure they are fit-for-purpose. A timeline of consultation activities undertaken is provided below (Figure 3).

Drone delivery guidelines consultation timeline
Figure 3: Drone delivery guidelines consultation timeline

The guidelines were drafted in consultation with the drone industry, through the National Emerging Aviation Technologies Consultative Committee, as well as with state and territory governments, through the Commonwealth, States and Territories Drones Working Group.

The department also engaged with local governments through the Australian Local Government Association and a drone delivery webinar held in June 2023.

The department consulted publicly on the guidelines in late 2022 to better understand community concerns relating to drone delivery services. The guidelines were updated to address community concerns and provide additional guidance following extensive feedback from range of individuals and organisations. A summary of public consultation outcomes is available here.

Figure 4 provides a visual representation of the frequency of key words from all public consultation submissions.

Word cloud of key words from public consultation submissions on the drone delivery guidelines
Figure 4: Word cloud of key words from public consultation submissions on the drone delivery guidelines