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