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Delivering Satisfaction: Drone Tech at its Finest

Maybe it’s time for drones to stop killing people and start doing something more productive, like delivering me a burrito.

Amazon teased the public in 2015 with the idea of a drone fleet capable of delivering packages to consumers, some in under 30 minutes. As ridiculous as this sounds we may actually be looking at a distant reality. 

Drones have been a fascination for consumers and businesses alike, offering virtually endless possibilities in terms of entertainment, military, and commercial uses. Considering the United States is basically the world’s convenience store, it’s no surprise that the idea of drone delivery received ample praise.

Online shopping forced the world of logistics and delivery to evolve. What once took a week to receive a package can now be shipped and delivered the next day. However, this industry is forced to change once more, offering quicker delivery times to satiate the growing impatience of American consumers.

The lengths we will go to make something take a little less time is truly amazing. Some may call it lazy, I call it capitalism.

Cutting Through the Red Tape

Amazon has begun taking significant strides in the research and development of a completely unmanned delivery system. Soon they will open a new Prime Air research facility in Paris, France. This will serve as a base of operations to test the development of their new delivery drones and create an air traffic control system. Though it may be years before this type of delivery service becomes readily available, one of the biggest hurdles the company faces are drone regulations.

Currently, there are many safety hazards when it comes to operating a drone. These concerns have been addressed by the Federal Aviation Administration with regulations that address safety, weather conditions and airspace congestion. However, Amazon is currently looking for an exemption from FAA regulations so they can conduct additional research. If the FAA makes it too difficult to test drone capabilities, companies like Amazon will be forced to move their R&D facilities out of the country. Regardless, Amazon is far from giving up on the idea of a drone delivery system.

Weighing the Costs

In theory, having a drone fleet delivering packages can cut costs significantly. For Amazon alone, roughly $40 billion is spent every year in packaging and shipping. The best way to minimize costs in the delivery world is to make as many deliveries as you can in the shortest amount of time. Currently, each of these delivery drones are capable of handling only one package before having to go back home to pick up another. Though Amazon will cut the cost of paying drivers, delivering only one package at a time is incredibly inefficient.

Critics are also skeptical about the total distance these drones are capable of flying. Amazon’s delivery drones can deliver packages within only a seven and a half mile radius. This means that if you expect a drone delivery, you have to live within ten miles of an Amazon warehouse. Fortunately, Amazon is willing to move their warehouses closer to their customers, but such a move will take time and increase costs in the short term.

Paving the Future

The idea of using drones to minimize the amount of time it takes to get a package or pizza may seem like lazy America at its finest, but the strides taken in the world of drone technology has opened up new humanitarian opportunities for many organizations. Drones are incredibly versatile and can reach places where trucks and people can’t. This technology can be used to transport medical supplies and food to disaster stricken areas easier than ever before. Cutting costs and delivery time is great, but the true benefit to drone technology is its potential to save lives.

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