The time lag between placing an order on Amazon and receiving a product could soon be a thing of the past. Earlier this month, the Federal Aviation Administration gave Amazon the go ahead to test its commercial drones in the U.S. Although it is a move in the right direction, however, the drone delivery project is still very much in the testing phase since the FAA has previously restricted the use of drones for commercial purposes. Many more hurdles must be crossed before the Amazon Prime Air program can become part of an everyday reality.
The Amazon drones are battery powered and would be able to deliver packages to customers in 30 minutes or less. Moreover, the drones would be able to carry the weight of packages under 5lbs, which according to Amazon, constitutes about 86% of the packages that they send out. Although this potential new service may sound rather expensive, according to Business Insider, Amazon would only charge $1 for drone delivery. This is significantly less than what some websites currently charge for next-day delivery.
Despite the cost benefits, there has been some skepticism about the practicality and safety of such a drone scheme. An article in the Telegraph by Daniel Johnson entitled ‘Amazon drones: nine ways it could go horribly wrong,’, points to several issues associated with the drones. These include the risk of a drone getting hacked, the role the weather could play in hindering safe delivery, the possibility of theft and, perhaps most obviously, the fact that all technology is susceptible to mishaps. In the case of these drones, such a mistake could result in packages falling from the sky and potentially injuring someone.
According to the Amazon Air Prime website, every precaution is being taken to ensure that this system of delivery remains a safe one. Indeed, the website states: ‘Safety is our top priority, and our vehicles will be built with multiple redundancies.’ Stringent security measures have also been put in place around the testing sites.
Yet, the possibility of commercial drones becoming a widespread phenomenon may spark other security concerns, as although drones have the potential to be extremely useful, they can also be misused. For instance, earlier this year, the accidental crashing of a recreational drone into the White House grounds made headlines and caused the reexamination of drone safety.
Amazon Prime Air has given an exciting glimpse into what the future might look like, and if it is successfully approved, countless other
companies will doubtless follow suit. However, the use of these drones will only be possible and practical with strict security measures in place that minimize any threat to safety that they might pose.