Drones Dropping Goods At Doorstep? Don’t Hold Your Breath

Amazon is working on drones like this that it hopes the FAA will approve.Photo: Associated Press

The future is looking bright for Amazon as they continue to seize a large segment of online sales, but that future may not include the futuristic delivery system Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos flaunted during his “60 Minutes” interview in late 2013 as he described the drone technology based delivery process they have been working on.

So don’t look for your newest flat-screen tv purchase or your weekly supply of dog food to arrive via “drone” delivery anytime in the near future, as the FAA is nowhere close to approving that type of product transit system just yet.

Jim Williams, from the Federal Aviation Administration who is in charge of unmanned aerial vehicles, stated that although Amazon won its approval to start testing the technology, they still do not have the necessary certification from the agency to implement the futuristic distribution network.

“The timeline is largely dependent on them and how fast they can move through the process,” Williams told Thomas Lee, a business columnist from the San Francisco Chronicle during a drone conference Friday in Santa Cruz.  The man-in-charge at the FAA continued, stating that Amazon may be able to start delivering in rural areas in a few years, but “Would it start happening in downtown San Francisco? Maybe not.”

There would be much to overcome in regards to this type of automated aerial delivery system, especially in regards to those deliveries in heavily congested areas such as NYC versus the rural communities of Wyoming or Montana.

The FAA understands the importance of setting the standards to govern this new “line of sight” technology, as they work to provide the guidelines that will govern the technology before it is actually ready to approve it

Amazon, who doesn’t own or operate traditional “brick and mortar” locations like competitors such as Best Buy, has unique delivery challenges to meet, since they have no way to create pick-up sites for the customers, thus relying solely on contracted carriers to ensure deliveries reach their customers.

Amazon tests drone delivery through a program called PrimeAir (Photo: Amazon)

Amazon tests drone delivery through a program called PrimeAir (Photo: Amazon)

If Amazon does indeed become the first company to gain FAA approval for urban delivery, the benefits could be huge and there is an emerging class of startup businesses including Instacart and TaskRabbit vying to be those couriers.

Any entrepreneur can easily understand why Amazon wants drones so badly as the savings could be extremely beneficial to their bottom line, but the question still remains as to when the FAA will be ready to sign off on the technology.



About the Author

Patrick James
Patrick James
Patrick James has worked as a firefighter/EMT for several services throughout the years, as well as a custom metal fabricator, certified personal trainer and chef. Growing up in the rural suburbs of Detroit, it was during his frequent trips to Northern Michigan where he learned of his love for hunting and fishing. Spending several of his adult years in upstate South Carolina, his love of extreme sports took root in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains as he learned to rock climb and kayak. "Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and vanish into air." ~ John Quincy Adams