Thursday, December 5, 2013

Amazon’s Drone delivery plan 'shot down' before it could take off

Days before Amazon, one of the leading delivery company, had thrown a bombshell of the drones that would carry mail boxes as easily as any other delivery means.

But sooner than expected by Amazon, the backlash and criticism is more severe than the announcement of drone delivery. In fact some critics call it a 'clever self-promotion' rather than anything near to reality.

This is despite the fact that drone delivery has shown potential. Last year, a start-up called Matternet in Palo Alto, California, tested drones as a way to deliver supplies to refugee camps in Haiti and found it cost only 20 to 70 cents to deliver a two-kilogram package 10 kilometres at least a fivefold savings compared to standard truck delivery.

But the question is can these drones be controlled in the air space which is used by air planes?

“Technically it is totally feasible,” says R. John Hansman, a professor of aeronautics at MIT. “The key issues will be if the [Federal Aviation Administration] allows this kind of operation—they should—and if the business case makes sense.”

Another problem will be the power cables running in streets and may pose a serious hazard for these low flying drones. 

Even if those challenges were dealt with, in the United States, drone use by Amazon would likely be a niche, high-cost service for high-value items. The FAA is currently working on drone safety and usage rules that are supposed to take effect in 2015. The rules are expected to lead to new commercial uses, including building inspections, police work, and delivery services.

Read more about it here

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