Amazon’s Experiments with Drone Delivery System

The CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, announced December of last year that they were researching on the “octocopter”, which is a drone that could instantly deliver packages to their customers’ doorstep in 30 minutes. That time, they had to do more testing and seek approval from FAA. Basically, these octocopers could pick up packages in Amazon’s fulfillment centers and fly towards their destinations. All these for 30 minutes and just with a click of the buy button.

Just last March, FAA has granted Amazon the opportunity to experiment on the drones so they could test how airworthy they are. Amazon is only allowed to use the drones at daylight below 400 feet, under good weather conditions, or simply put, in clear days. They also need pilots to keep visuals while the drones are flying.

Under this experimental grant, Amazon should provide the FAA monthly flight data of the drones. This would include number of flights, hardware or software malfunctions, pilot duty time, deviations from air traffic controllers’ orders if there are any, and loss of communication. As for the pilot, he or she should have a pilot’s certificate and a medical certification that is up to date.

Surely, these rules are strict but they are still worth it for Amazon to finally test a delivery fleet that is a major breakthrough in goods delivery. Still curious? Here is a list of Amazon’s FAQs as indicated in their website:

Q: Is this science fiction or is this real?
A: It looks like science fiction, but it’s real. One day, seeing Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road.

Q: When will I be able to choose Prime Air as a delivery option?
A: We will deploy when and where we have the regulatory support needed to realize our vision. We’re excited about this technology and one day using it to deliver packages to customers around the world in 30 minutes or less.

Q: How are you going to ensure safety?
A: Safety is our top priority, and our vehicles will be built with multiple redundancies.

Q: Will there be any perks/discounts for early adopters?
A: Nothing is confirmed at the moment but free Amazon gift cards may be dispensed to first waves of customers.

Q: What will the Prime Air delivery vehicles look like?
A: It is too soon to tell. We are testing many different vehicle components, designs and configurations.

Q: Where are you building and testing?
A: We have Prime Air development centers in the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel, and we are testing in multiple international locations.

Amazon ships almost 3.5 million packages in a day so this kind of innovation could be a major breakthrough. Right now, the company is very proactive in exploring their options towards speedy delivery. Currently, they are considering teaming up with other carriers such as UPS and even ordinary people just to drop off their packages towards their set destinations. This method is what we commonly know as crowd sourcing.

Indeed, the future looks bright for Amazon if this drone project pushes through. Clients with urgent needs would surely love the service since it is hassle-free and really quick. But the next question is, how expensive would delivery by means of drones be? A project this big would surely mean great costs. This might be in contrast with their goal to contain the shipping costs which seem to be rising yearly, even faster than revenues. But perhaps if the drones would be a big hit, they might be gaining more revenue than the usual after all. For consumers, it’s a win win as they can expect faster and more efficient shipments.

Aerial drones themselves seem to have a sci-fi feel but let us now embrace the reality that they are finally happening, and could even be delivering our groceries right at our doorstep in the near future.