Amazon Prime Air: Quadcopters to Deliver Packages?
Amazon is taking its delivery network to a whole new level by stating it wishes to use its line of Prime Air drones to bring parcels to recipients. Mail and package delivery companies have always been obsessed with transporting goods faster, beginning with the Pony Express. Amazon wishes to set yet another trend in American culture of using military hardware with commercial applications. The only problem the online giant is facing is the regulating power of the government, particularly the FAA and Homeland Security.
Up until now, quadcopters have been used by military personnel overseas for scouting areas and in limited capacity using deadly force against enemy combatants. The Amazon Prime Air drone is designed as a means of delivering small packages to recipients within a 30 minute time frame. Sound crazy? According to ExtremeTech, “Jeff Bezos, speaking on the 60 Minutes TV show, says the quadcopters will be capable of delivering a five-pound (2.3 kg) package to addresses within 10 miles of an Amazon fulfillment center, within 30 minutes. Power-wise (or should we say battery-wise), this is feasible. A delivery time of 30 minutes should be possible, assuming Amazon uses an entirely automated process (i.e. robots) to pick your order and then load it onto a quadcopter.” Amazon has more information in its FAQ’s page.
The main issue the government is having with Amazon Prime Air is the plethora of safety concerns (i.e. injuring people or damaging property) in addition to proper coding and training for individuals who will be overseeing these drones. Forbes reports that “Currently small drones like those Amazon plans to use, are not permitted to fly in U.S. airspace without special permission. The FAA’s primary concerns regarding drones in U.S. airspace revolve around safety, particularly the drone’s inability to sense and avoid other aircraft. However, some groups are also concerned with the privacy implications of drones equipped with cameras.”
Though these quadcopter drones will not be used to spy on people, the FAA has been working on legislation that seeks to allow and control drone use in US airspace, something that has not been permitted before. “The FAA is concerned with a host of issues within the agency’s regulatory purview. Prior to allowing drones to operate in the national airspace, the FAA must develop rules for pilot/operator training, control station policies and certification requirements, issues related to the drone’s data link and communication capabilities, airworthiness standards and other issues,” says Greg McNeal of Forbes.
Other than the obvious legal issues, Doug Aamoth predicts many more logistical problems in his article, ranging from privacy issues to difficulty in delivering to urban dwellers in apartment buildings and complexes. Do you think drone delivery systems like Amazon Prime Air are the future in getting people what they want when they want it or just a passing fad that will be buried with regulation?
Though Amazon won’t be the first to implement the idea of drone delivery (Dominos wanted to deliver pizzas in such a fashion first), it is certainly a step towards innovation. Are you innovating within your own industry to get your product/service to your customers more efficiently? Let us know in the comments below.