Daily Dose of iQ: Amazon Delivery Drones Far from Becoming Real

Dec 03, 2013 — Collin Prior

Over the past two days, a surreal video (below) from Amazon went viral (now over 7 million views): Amazon Prime Air introduces the potential for 30-minute delivery times via "unmanned aerial vehicles."

This looks awesome but is clearly more of an Amazon publicity stunt than an actual reality.

Amazon itself says Prime Air "will take some number of years as we advance technology and wait for the necessary FAA rules and regulations."

This is more of an Amazon publicity stunt than an actual reality.

Some obvious issues with Prime Air include:

  • Size of potential packages is limited.
  • Obstruction/damage/theft: How is Amazon to ensure the safe flight path of these drones? The more there are, the more complex the air traffic control issue becomes.
  • Privacy: Anybody’s purchase is flying out there in public.
  • Operational costs: Is it cost-effective to run one drone per package versus filling up a truck with multiple packages and delivering them by hand?
  • Consumer safety: There is a liability issue, should the drone injure someone en route or upon delivery.
  • Designated landing areas: How can you ensure enough space for a safe landing at every recipient's home or location?

Drones could truly become a great courier service for businesses with urban and suburban office locations.

All of that said, I could see this type of courier service being great for certain businesses, especially in highly populated areas. Imagine if you had a downtown head office and a campus in the suburbs. Drones might be the most efficient way to quickly transfer signed documents or small physical objects between locations where car travel could take hours.

Suffice it to say, however, there are a lot of angles that need to be figured before Prime Air becomes a reality. The potential is legitimate, but this is nowhere close to ready for prime time.

Topics: Retail Operations, Wireless Trends, Mobile Industry, Customer Experience, e-Commerce, Retail Marketing

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