Drone delivery – it sounds like a breakthrough system, so far advanced and far off in the future. In reality, some companies have already figured it out and it’s already operating above and among us.
So, what are these drones and do they actually work? Universally, a drone that delivers packages is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), allowing it to transport packages via air that weigh up to 5 lbs. The drones are simply controlled by a GPS system that grants it coordinates of where to exactly deliver the packages.
Amazon Prime Air introduced its drone prototype in 2013 called the “octocopter.” For consumers, it will be easy as selecting the “Prime Air” shipping option and then tracking delivery through an app. After ordering, they would expect a drone in their front yard with their package within 30 minutes. It’s now almost 2017 and they don’t see Amazon drones flying around when they look outside the window, so what’s the hold up?
The drone industry itself is valued at over $127bn. This industry has gotten a lot of hype over the years, and for the right reasons. Dave Vos, head of Google X’s Project Wing, says that drone delivery will be ready and effective come 2017. It’s not a question of if the technology is there, it is a question of regulations.
Even though all of the technology is in place, it’s currently illegal to fly drones without applying for permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA.) Along with Amazon, the FAA permitted Google to test its “Project Wing” drone delivery system in designated areas. The drones were only limited to operating below 400ft and within line of site – a law that Obama’s administration implemented in June 2016.
These drones do not physically carry a human pilot to fly it to its destination.They are controlled by radio sensors, so that the people on ground at Amazon know where the drones are at all times. However, getting into the system and altering the destination route of the drone could be viewed as a new challenge for hackers. With hacking being such a serious and threatening issue to the US, we can’t be 100 percent positive that these drones can’t and won’t be hacked by hackers all over the world.
One of the most significant questions being asked about drone delivery is falling packages from 400ft in the sky. It has the potential to seriously injure any living thing below it. Along with this, the sensors on the drones are able to detect just about anything, but there is always a margin of error when it comes to unexpected branches, weather or even landing in the wrong spot in a person’s yard. It would be a letdown if customers looked out the window to see an Amazon Prime Drone swimming in the pool along with the package they ordered.
Will delivery drones become a reality?
The advantages (and disadvantages) of drone delivery are clear. They deliver faster, and the weight restrictions still allow the drones to deliver 80-90 percent of Amazon products. Nonetheless, it’s not efficient to have a drone travel X amount of miles to deliver a single package and then return back to headquarters to re-charge. A UPS truck delivers more packages in that same period of time.
In a report by ARK Invest, it suggests that Prime Air could only cost Amazon 88 cents per delivery. If Amazon charges customers $1 per delivery, it could earn a 50 percent return on its investment in drone usage, while offering same day delivery.
There certainly has been great development on this topic in hopes of it being readily available to all of us. The technology is present and working, it is only a matter of integrating these technologies into our everyday lives.