For the first time in a long time, the talk of the tech world doesn't involve an iPhone or an iPad or some new smartwatch. Amazon's bold Prime Air initiative to use drones to deliver parcels by 2015, took everyone by surprise. (Especially us Americans who were recovering from our Thanksgiving feasts and crazy shopping madness.) Optimistic as Bezos and company's plan is, we cautioned the roadblocks that could prevent drones from being used for commercial deliveries anytime soon, namely heavy regulation by the Federal Aviation Administration.
If you think Amazon's ballsy enough to announce a drone delivery service, think again. Naturally, the United Parcel Service (UPS) aka the world's largest parcel service and FedEx are also doing their homework on the possibilities of using unmanned aircraft, according to The Verge. A UPS rep told the tech and culture website:
"The commercial use of drones is an interesting technology and we’ll continue to evaluate it. UPS invests more in technology than any other company in the delivery business, and we’re always planning for the future."
While UPS isn't quite as confident as Amazon on when it expects drone deliveries to take off, the company isn't pretending drones won't potentially replace trucks one day. One of The Verge's sources says UPS could be considering drones for something a little less grand than what Amazon hopes to offer: using drones "to bring packages quickly and cheaply from a major airport to city to pick-up centers in more remote locations, speeding up delivery for a lot of customers."
Right now, the biggest issue is safety. Speaking with The Verge, Colin Guinn, CEO of DJI, a drone maker, says better "object detection and avoidance" is a key factor to trusting drones to not fall out of the sky and killing us all.
For a more detailed dose of skepticism, we recommend reading Spectrum's breakdown on all of the very real issues that could keep Amazon's Prime Air service (or any drone delivery service) from taking off anytime soon.
Bear in mind, what Amazon, UPS and most likely any other major delivery company want is still a few years off (if not a lot more than Amazon's 2015 projection). Raising awareness for drones as commercial vehicles right now is the right step. It'd be one scary day if we just woke up and there were drones fluttering about everywhere carrying packages to people without any kind of proper warning or preparation. Most people would probably think an alien robot race was trying to colonize us.
Via The Verge