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An Amazon Package Delivered To You in 30 Minutes Or Less: It’s Coming, On Drones

| March 21, 2015

A drone on its way to deliver an Amazon Prime Air package, as shown in an Amazon publicity shot.

A drone on its way to deliver an Amazon Prime Air package, as shown in an Amazon publicity shot.

On Thursday, the Federal Aviation Administration issued an experimental airworthiness certificate to an Amazon Logistics, Inc. unmanned aircraft design that the company will use for research and development and crew training.

“The implications of the FAA awarding Amazon Logistics an experimental certificate are far reaching and indicative of the growing collaboration between industry and government,” said Brent Terwilliger, chair of the Master of Science in Unmanned Systems at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Worldwide. “The requirements of the certificate, such as use of certified pilot, aircraft registration and marking, and consistent reporting of flight test metrics (e.g., pilot duty time, malfunctions, deviation from ATC instruction, and instances of loss of communications) will help the FAA and Amazon better understand how this technology can best be applied in the National Airspace System in a safe manner.”

On its website, Amazon says its Prime Air Service could safely deliver packages into customers’ hands in 30 minutes or less using small unmanned aerial vehicles (sUAS).

Amazon is not the only company evaluating this new delivery method. Earlier this year, Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba conducted test deliveries of tea in three cities. And UPS has confirmed it, too, is evaluating the use of the technology.

the-globe-erauMeanwhile, stakeholders are awaiting additional guidance from the FAA in regard to commercial use of unmanned systems in the U.S. In February, the agency issued a set of proposed rules that are currently pending a 60-day public comment period.

One key stakeholder is the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), which has appeared on Capitol Hill to encourage lawmakers to make UAS research and development a priority.

“Companies like Amazon are at the forefront of technological advances and are investing heavily in research and development. It is important to ensure that innovative uses of UAS technology, such as package delivery, take off in the U.S.,” said Brian Wynne, AUVSI president and CEO, in a statement released Thursday. “Industry and government also need to work together to lay the groundwork for beyond-line-of-sight operations, a necessary prerequisite for package delivery and other transformational uses of UAS technology.”

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10 Responses for “An Amazon Package Delivered To You in 30 Minutes Or Less: It’s Coming, On Drones”

  1. Jon Hardison says:

    So what happens the first time someone forgets to bring their dog inside and the drone (or the dog) gets ripped to shreds, or a child simply can’t resist trying to play with it? I’m putting this in the “Possible, but probably not a good idea” column.

    I’d give it a week before these things were being shot down and people’s merchandise stollen. I’d give it another 30 days before the drones themselves where being reprogrammed for other purposes.

    It seems like high tech for the sake of high tech.

  2. Ken Dodge says:

    A solution in search of a problem.

  3. confidential says:

    Totally unacceptable…will make more dangerous than ever commercial aviation colliding often with one of these drones. Imagine our skies crowded with millions of these drones? More stuff falling on us and causing damage or death to not fault of our own and who will pay for it. As is now if a small plane falls in our houses or us anywhere may not have insurance and we do not get covered, as insurance is not required by the FAA to fly an aircraft but is required in our cars! The power of corporations ruling our government and threatening our safety.

  4. orphan says:

    I love the idea.
    If I just ordered an item and it was promised to be delivered within 30 minutes, I can assure you that I would be right there at the delivery address, waiting.
    For anyone worrying about security ie: being targeted from the skies etc, we lost the last of that protection the day of 9/11.
    Just get used to the fact that everything that you do is at any possible moment under surveillance. OK now, take a deep breath and say after me, “I understand that my rights of privacy have been completely revoked”. Now, think about how wonderful it will be to not have to track a package day after day after day. Now you will be able to run a lap around the yard or swim a lap or two and WOW! IT’S HERE!
    I love progress.
    But it scares me to death. :(

  5. Bulls Eye Buck says:

    Can you imagine the theft that is going to take place ? Jobless citizens will be sitting in the backyards with slingshots and marbles waiting for a flying package to fly over head…….Ye hay Bubba, I got me pair of wool socks and a fleece hat !!!!

    • Nancy N. says:

      I find your equating of being jobless and being a criminal highly offensive. Having the misfortune to not have a job does not make a person a criminal. And plenty of criminals have jobs. Whether or not a person has a job is not reflective of their moral character.

      It’s discriminatory attitudes like yours that keep people from getting jobs once they lose theirs. Unemployment, especially in the white collar world, becomes a long term trap because no one will hire someone who is unemployed.

  6. TEST RUN says:

    They have no intention of home drop off. They will more then likely have “drop zones” or hubs like a drive through. Or the back in the day photomarts.

  7. David S. says:

    I feel that this is a bad idea from the start to many people getting injured ,packages being dropped at wrong locations,trying to knock it down from the sky and may I add that the bad guys are going to have a field day with this.

  8. The Truth says:

    I’m a big fan of Amazon and I understand wanting to think outside the box to try and speed up the delivery process, but I just don’t think this is going to work. As others have mentioned, my biggest concerns are:

    1. Injuries — while I am sure Amazon will do everything they can to prevent these drones from hitting someone (because of course that will mean a lawsuit) I just don’t see how that’s going to happen. It’s a flying object and there are too many variables that come into play.

    2. Terrain – Many parts of this country have difficult to maneuver terrain. Trees, hills, mountains, buildings, etc. Amazon has already stated this will be strictly for communities that are within 30 miles of a distributions center (very limited) but I just see there being too many obstacles to maneuver these devices around.

    3. Theft – I could just imagine this drone flying over high crime areas and being shot down. I just don’t see how Amazon can combat that. It’s a shame that it’s something that can happen, but unfortunately this is the world we live in. I’m sure Amazon will cover the loss since it never arrived to the customer, but I could only imagine how often this will happen. I’m sure these devices will be equipped with all sorts of cameras taking snapshots to help with identifying those who shoot it down.

    I just don’t think this is going to work as well as thought up. Only time will tell.

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