Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, it’s a drone, the latest innovation in the technology industry. Amazon and UPS are designing a drone delivery system to make their shipping faster, more high-tech, and easier for consumers.
U.P.S., one of the USA’s mass delivery companies, has partnered up with CyPhy Works to make a large-scale drone delivery system possible.
The founder, Helen Greiner commented in an article on Big Story, “Drones aren’t going to take the place of all delivery, but there are places where you have inaccessible location, an emergency situation where the infrastructure is down, you want or need the package quickly-these are the areas where drones will be the best way to get a package to a location.”
They tested a drone on Sept. 22, launching it from Marblehead, Massachusetts. It was able to successfully fly over the Atlantic Ocean for three miles to deliver an inhaler at Children’s Island within just eight minutes.
Meanwhile, Amazon is currently working on several different drone designs. Certain models will be used based on the surrounding environment and size of the package.
Within 30 minutes of placing an order, a package can be delivered to your doorway. And, you’ll be notified when the package departs while timer counts down the seconds to arrival. Not only that, but the Prime Air app now allows you to postpone package delivery at any time.
A lightweight, Amazon-branded helipad will also be required, acting as a homing beacon to ensure a safe landing. This makes delivery in crowded, urban areas or apartment buildings especially difficult, as the drones need a spacious area to land smoothly.
Integrated cameras and sensors give the drones the ability to sense and avoid any air-borne obstructions. Sophisticated navigation technology, and GPS, will help the drone to quickly veer back on course after dodging birds and other flying objects.
Still, drone-makers are facing obstacles, especially from the government.
Federal laws don’t allow drones to pass over civilians and require that they must be within line of sight of the operators, rendering them useless for the time being. Though planning is at its peak, shipping companies must work to change these strict regulations before drones can become a viable shipping method.
Safety is also a concern, and the firm stated that it “will not launch Prime Air until we are able to demonstrate safe operations.”
The drones can top an altitude of 100 meters, and are capable of hitting more than 60 miles per hour, but will have to be recharged after every use. The debut drone will have a range of 15 miles, which means that you will have to live up to 7.5 miles from a distribution center in order to be eligible for drone delivery.
Advancements in the field of unmanned delivery systems can ultimately improve efficiency. With regular delivery systems, a package takes about a week to deliver (based on proximity). However with drones, your package could be at your doorstep in a matter of minutes. Usage of drones would potentially even decrease roadside traffic, as there would be less congestion on already-packed highways.
“If Amazon’s drone program succeeds, it could fundamentally alter the company’s cost structure. A decade from now, drones would reduce the unit cost of each Amazon delivery by about half…If that happens, the economic threat to competitors would be punishing — retail stores would cease to exist,” states the New York Times.
Although the idea of drones hovering in the sky to deliver Christmas presents sounds like something out of a sci-fi novel, that day is soon to come.