Amazon CEO says plans to deliver small packages via drones ‘will happen’ despite massive hurdles

By End the Lie

(Image credit: Amazon)

(Image credit: Amazon)

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos revealed Amazon “Prime Air” on Sunday, which is his company’s plan to deliver small packages to consumers via drones.

Bezos expressed his confidence on “60 Minutes” on Sunday, telling Charlie Rose that it “will work, and it will happen,” even though many legal obstacles remain in the way.

Yet many commercial drone operators flout the law and use drones despite the federal regulations restricting their use. Currently, domestic drones are flown mostly by federal agencies, National Guard units, the military, police departments, colleges and many more that remain secret.

However, many states have begun to push back against domestic drone use. Cities ranging in size have taken steps to limit drone use and some have passed quite strong anti-drone legislation.

Thus it seems that Amazon has many obstacles it will have to conquer in its effort to roll out drone deliveries nationwide and some say that the whole thing is nothing more than a publicity stunt.

James Ball, writing for The Guardian, believes the whole thing is unrealistic.

“Here’s the problem: it’s all hot air and baloney,” Ball said.

Others are equally skeptical, pointing out that most people wouldn’t fit into the requirements for Prime Air and even if they did, it would only be rolled out in the very distant future.

Gizmodo’s Brian Barrett hints that Bezos’ statement is actually just about grabbing headlines for Amazon in any way possible.

Despite Bezos saying the plan is “gonna be a lot of fun,” some legitimate concerns have been raised.

“In urban areas, swooping octocopters might seem a hazard, pigeons with gas-powered propellers,” Peter Grier wrote for The Christian Science Monitor. “In rural areas, they might be targets for people bored of hunting deer.”

Those concerns are relatively minor compared to what Amazon faces with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Grier notes that the realistic start date for a drone delivery program would probably be “2025 or beyond.”

Even the 2015 deadline for the FAA to finalize drone regulations seems overly optimistic, given that the agency has already missed some of their deadlines. Amazon’s plan likely falls under the “FAA’s long-term outlook – meaning it couldn’t gain approval until 2022 or 2026,” according to The Christian Science Monitor.

The FAA also will probably require Amazon’s drone pilots to go through some training approved by the federal government while Amazon’s drones would likely have to meet extensive FAA guidelines.

For full integration into the airspace, the FAA will require civilian drones to have “sense-and-avoid” technology in order to eliminate potential drone crashes. The problem is that such technology will not be ready for widespread use for many years, according to the FAA.

Furthermore, the list of potential drone uses published by the FAA does not include civilian package delivery, only cargo carriage between airports.

“The bottom line here is that Amazon Prime Air might not be operational until Miley Cyrus is playing on oldies radio,” Grier wrote. “That’s led some critics to charge that unveiling the plan on ‘60 Minutes’ at the beginning of the holiday shopping season was really a well-planned publicity stunt.”

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2 Responses to Amazon CEO says plans to deliver small packages via drones ‘will happen’ despite massive hurdles

  1. Emmett G. December 2, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    ““In rural areas, they might be targets for people bored of hunting deer.”

    I live in a rural area and this is pretty unlikely; however, what is HIGHLY likely is that people here would shoot down the damn drones for interfering with their privacy, and they are right. People here tend to leave each other alone, which is why I live here. We’ve already had black helicopters flying only about 25 feet above our heads while we’re gardening. Drones are already being planned for idiot uses such as Jeff Bezos talks about. Why would drone delivery be better than what we already have? Would it be faster, more accurate (not likely, given what is happening in Pakistan with all the strike error).

    Reply
  2. Lorraine Ruff December 3, 2013 at 11:23 AM

    MDevelopmental technology is risky and expensive. There is a stage at which a prototype is presented. Amazon and Mr. Bezos decided to go public. I see this whole business with Prime Air as both transformational and disruptive like many products introduced by our nation’s top innovators, e.g., IPod, iPad, Starbucks, COSTCO, automotive backup cameras that changed the basis of competition. That’s good for the American people.

    What I don’t find helpful is the death knell you’ve raised without a modicum of critical thinking.

    I am relatively sure that Mr. Bezos and his Prime Air team continue to probe risk. Presenting Prime Air to the public is helping Amazon collect reaction and response. That’s integral to product/services innovation.

    Mr. Bezos and his team are exploring and exercising vision. They are doing so with their own profits, a goodly share of which will be devoted to public affairs that addresses the regulatory ramifications for which there will also be risk assessment. “Rule changes always involve public comment. However it’s not rational to expect that the FAA could conceive of all the innovation involving our nation’s airspace any more that regulators could envision the amount of bandwidth our yo under generation would consume with no end in site as we move further into the personal communication era.

    Good grief, automotive engineers are already moving driverless operation through the stops. Can you image what that could mean to our overcrowded roads? Several of the higher end cars already feature emergency stop sensing the space ahead, velocity and probability of collision.

    And finally, product development also inspires additional innovation.

    Instead of you being interviewed, how about visiting collets and university advanced tech laboratories and check out the innovation that abounds? You’d be a more relevant and competent journalist if you did.

    Cheers from the Pacific Northwest of the US. Retired and writing “technology-runs-amok novels. Lorraine Ruff

    Reply

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