Back in October, Delivery Quote Compare brought you an article about Australian start-up firm Flirtey launching its flock of book delivery drones on the unsuspecting Sydney public.
Now, retail giants Amazon – the world’s largest online retailer – have announced plans to provide similar delivery methods to customers.
The Octocopeter drones have the capacity to deliver packages weighing up to 2.3kg, in some cases, within 30 minutes of the customer placing the order. Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos did warn that the process needed to get the service up and running could take up to five years.
Some commentators have branded the announcement by Amazon as a fairly transparent marketing move as they make the announcement on the busiest online shopping day in the US, Cyber Monday, and suggest Amazon don’t have any real plans to bring the drone service to fruition. It is unclear if the drones will be legally able to fly, as the US Federal Aviation Administration is yet to approve the use of unmanned drones for civilian purposes.
Bezos told CBS television’s 60 Minutes programme, “I know this looks like science fiction but it’s not. We can do half-hour delivery… and we can carry objects, we think, up to five pounds which covers 86% of the items we deliver.”
The service would be called Prime Air, and Amazon posted a video showing one of the drones in action, picking up a package from one of its warehouses and delivering it direct to the customer’s door.
An expert on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), Dr Darren Ansell from the University of Central Lancashire, spoke about the potential risks inherent in such flying drones, “The UAVs do not currently have the awareness of their environment to be able to avoid flying into people. To deliver goods to people’s homes for example in residential areas, the UAVs must overfly densely populated towns and cities, something that today’s regulations prevent. Other things to consider are security of the goods during the transit. With no one to guard them the aircraft and package could be captured and stolen.”
Despite the potential difficulties posed by legal regulations, potential theft, and safety issues, Amazon insist that, “One day, Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today.”