As the world awaits the implementation of various drone delivery services planned by major retailers, Amazon reveals what consumers can expect from their Amazon Prime Air.
"So Prime Air is a future delivery service that will get packages to customers within 30 minutes of them ordering it online at Amazon.com," Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president for global public policy told Yahoo News.
"The goals we’ve set for ourselves are: The range has to be over 10 miles. These things will weigh about 55 pounds each, but they’ll be able to deliver parcels that weigh up to five pounds. It turns out that the vast majority of the things we sell at Amazon weigh less than five pounds."
These seem like reasonable assertions; however, Misener still has yet to give details on when their drone delivery system will be deployed.
Realistically, it has to contend with FAA approvals for commercial use in the US and Civil Aviation Authority in the UK. So all of this might take some time, and it might not be held back by technical limitations, but governmental ones.
Apart from regulatory challenges, certain hypothetical scenarios have come to light that bring attention to the safety and efficiency of drone use for commercial deliveries.
For instance, with Amazon and other retail behemoths looking into drones to make deliveries, urban airspace will now be saturated with buzzing drones.
"We were thinking: Manned aircraft above 500 feet. Between 400 and 500 feet there’d be a no-fly zone—a safety buffer," he said. "Between 200 and 400 feet would be a transit zone, where drones could fly fairly quickly, horizontally. And then below 200 feet, that would be limited to certain operations. For us, it would be takeoff and landing. For others, it might be aerial photography. The realtors, for example, wouldn’t need to fly above 200 feet to get a great shot of a house," Misener says as he explained proposed the concept of layered airspace to address this issue.
Another scenario would be malicious vandals who simply want to mess with the technology by say, shooting at it.
But Misener isn’t fazed. "I suppose they could shoot at trucks, too," he said. "We want to make the deliveries. And we believe that these Prime Air drones will be as normal as seeing a delivery truck driving down the street someday. So the novelty will wear off."
It remains to be see whether or not delivery drones will be rolling (flying) down our streets any time soon. But the Amazon execs are convinced that they technology is on the horizon. Now it's up to the governments to see if they can keep up.