The flying drones that can scan packages night and day

Flying drones and robots now patrol distribution warehouses – they’ve become workhorses of the e-commerce era online that retailers can’t do without. It is driving down costs but it is also putting people out of work: what price progress?

It could be a scene from Blade Runner 2049; the flying drone hovers in the warehouse aisle, its spinning rotors filling the cavernous space with a buzzing whine.

It edges close to the packages stacked on the shelf and scans them using onboard optical sensors, before whizzing off to its next assignment.