Bike vs Drone vs Lorry – Which is the quickest delivery method?

Contestant number 1

Contestant number 1

I suppose this is a little call out to Amazon, Google and who else is sending these mini motors up into the sky; and well of course the producers in Top Gear and – unfortunately I don’t have a drone handy to do it myself! I’ll pop down to Argos on the way home though.

So who would win in a cross city race between a delivery drone, motor vehicle – lets say man in a white van – and a delivery cyclist. And let’s make it interesting, lets put it in NYC, lots of high raise buildings for the drone to tackle there.

1. Send out the drone

Right let’s first look at what the new Amazon drone is:

And so it’s stats are something like the following:

  • Around a 30 minute delivery time.
  • The drone (Amazon Air Prime) will launch from distribution centers and have a range of about 14km (with the current version of the drone).
  • The drone is an octocopter. This means that it has 8 tiny rotors. I’m not exactly sure of the size.
  • The octocopter can carry a payload of about 5 pounds (2.3 kilograms).

2. The sweaty cyclist

Not to support the running of red lights by cyclists but these NYC delivery men & women are bloody nuts. So fearless in fact that on a quick google search there is a bit of a crack down on those riders who are ‘unsafe’ in their job. Of course loads of pedestrians get killed by cars, lorries but we can leave this debate for another day. Still their bravery/stupidity is great TV (to be a little heartless about it all. Top Gear keep making notes)….

You will find a great article from ‘The League of American Bicyclists’ on an interview from Mario Giampieri, a delivery cyclist in New York &  co-founder of the Biking Public Project here – if you find this world as fascinating as I do! Must catch that dedicated Hollywood on the industry – Premium Rush.

Certainly bikes are an inexpensive, fast, and efficient way to deliver goods. Trying to pull out some real numbers on delivery times across distances in the heart of NYC is however not fast. Interestingly there was a comparable City Cross race in the UK – here – well in Halifax, not quite the same – where competitors recorded cross city times of 20minutes… a distance of……grrrr…if anyone can find some stats please comment below! However it does make the outcome of such a race interesting doesn’t it?

All this talk does make me worry for our cyclist competitor, particularly the quote from City Cross – ‘Will it wreck me? Will me and my bike die?’

3. Our man in the white van

We should probably for the sake of the race not put the element of reality and hold up the package in the sorting room, lorry pick-up station or wherever else some of these delivery companies claim your package is.

According to the video below it took 41 minutes to drive around Manhattan (legally). I can only suspect if we set the race at the heart of the city, jumping light to light, that our man in the van will take at least this amount of time!


Now is conclusive yet, I will leave that to the experts in Top Gear and Amazon to slog it out. However it seems in a downtown center our two lead competitors will be the new Amazon fairy or our nerves of steel rider.

Your thoughts?