Commercial Drone Delivery On Its Way In The U.S.A

It’s a major business idea that’s been hindered by a number of issues, the most notable of which is regulations set by the Federal Aviation Administration. That could all change as Amazon has now been given permission to test its ecommerce delivery drones within the United States.

Though the FAA released drone-testing approval for an outdated drone last month, this latest development may actually add up to a significant milestone for Amazon and a whole new era in ecommerce.

Is Delivery Destine To Stay Grounded?
So long as Amazon’s delivery drones fly no higher than 400 feet and no faster than 100 miles per hour, the FAA will allow the online selling giant to test their unmanned aircraft. If found to be viable and safe by the administration, the drones could revolutionize the way online shoppers receive products.

Will this approach change the future or is widespread commercial drone use destine to stay grounded.

Going Slow For Safety’s Sake?
Critics of commercial drones have cited safety as a major issue. Safety was also primary reason why the FAA has said its response to drone regulation and testing has been so slow.

A lot of questions remain on how unmanned aircraft, however small, will exist in skies with conventional, piloted craft and operate around obstacles. Now that testing is allowed, we’ll get a chance to see how Amazon can overcome the inherent challenges, primarily how to deliver an airborne package without a pilot to evade potential hazards.

Amazone Drone Delivery

Speedier Decisions Abroad
Amazon hasn’t delayed it drone testing and prototyping efforts as a result of the FAA’s slow regulatory response. The company has completed testing of advanced drone designs in nations abroad where permissions were granted in manner of weeks.

Challenges For Air E-Commerce Remain
As testing continues, and is now permitted in the U.S., don’t expect a drone to soon deliver your new giant flat screen TV or even recurring grocery order. If, however, you’d like a DVD, book, or other product below five pounds, that drone delivery may be possible.

amazon-drone-research

Over 85% of items that Amazon carries fall below that weight limit, thus the company could deliver a major majority of its products in as little as a half an hour. That is, of course, if the delivery location is within the Amazon drone operator’s line of sight—which is currently the most challenging requirement set by the FAA.

While Amazon and the FAA have yet to reach terms that would allow commercial drone deliver to operate as retailers intend, U.S. based testing permissions represent a major step for the technology, its acceptance, and its future widespread utilization. 

Do you think the FAA is right to take its time with regulation or are they simply hindering progress?

Tell us your thoughts on delivery drones in the comments.

Article Sources:
http://www.pbs.org
http://qz.com
http://www.wired.com
http://www.fastcompany.com

Lisa Myers
 

Is a blogger with an interest for all things mechanical. She is a full-time mom with three active boys, who loves encouraging them to explore the world of science and engineering. They spend a lot of time together playing with Legos.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 4 comments
Clifford

As soon as I started watching this video of the drone making it’s logistic journey from the Amazon warehouse to its customer’s home, I knew that the video wasn’t actually video, but rather a produced promotional reenactment of what a real world delivery might look like in the future. I’m glad the FDA has cleared the way (so to speak) for beta testing this technology. However, I’m convinced that with the passing of time, there will be more challenges than they anticipate.

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Pamela

There’s a tech news video circulating around the internet which challenges the Amazon movement toward drone delivery. It cites all the potential problems that will thwart their efforts. Some of these include: the lack of sensitivity or accuracy of the drone’s sensors, which could lead the drone to getting tangled with thin tree branches or power lines; a vulnerability to wireless hacking which a company already exposed. There are more, but these two are enough.

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Ronald

I would love to see drones implemented in shipping and other facets of life. Still, I would be surprised if this technology rolls (or flys) out soon simply because there is so much potential for operational and technical failure, not to mention the potential for theft. There are many tech savvy opportunists just waiting (and perhaps already planning) to game the system.

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Lee

I think the more important issue is what kinds of drones will the FDA allow into the air. There are many more things for the FDA to worry about when it comes to the use of drones. They are only scratching the surface. This dilemma is far from being resolved. Let’s just hope that drones don’t get over regulated.

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