The Next Web published an awesome article reminding everyone that five years ago, Jeff Bezos promised in a 60 Minutes interview that drones would deliver goods to our homes by 2019. With the new year upon us, it’s exciting to think that drone package delivery could be a reality in the US, just as it’s starting to happen in other countries.
While hobbyists are already filling the air, consumers may be wondering whether we’ll soon see widespread services like pizza deliveries. In order to enable this reality, a few key pieces must still fall into place. They fall into three main buckets: economic, regulatory, and technological.
Show me the money: Displaying an economic driver
First, businesses must establish an economic driver. This is a classic cost-benefit analysis, where drone deliveries either have to be cheaper than vehicle delivery or they need to be so convenient that customers are willing to pay more for it.
Amazon, a pioneer in developing drone delivery services, made more than five billion deliveries to Prime customers in 2017. That number of deliveries puts the company’s shipping costs at roughly $20 billion for one year. Can companies like Amazon reduce costs and increase services? How about increase safety, reduce greenhouse gas emission, fly at altitudes that reduce noise, and alleviate privacy concerns? The answer is yes.
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The shift will happen when it becomes a more economical way to meet consumer demands. I envision this will take place in the next five to ten years as the number of consumers shopping online continues to grow and the demand for fast or same day delivery reaches an all-time high. Amazon and other retailers will reach a tipping point that will lead to change and innovation being adopted across the board.
The FAA and DOT partner with private sector: Creating a regulatory framework
Currently, it’s illegal to fly drones over people, at night, or beyond an operator’s visual line of site (BVLOS) without a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) waiver, which is difficult to obtain. The reason being that safe pathways need to be identified, like highways for drones, to create a safe airspace.
As a society, we have become inured to the idea that a multi-ton aircraft flying overhead could come crashing down, albeit unlikely. Continue reading about Bezos’ promise of drone delivery.
Source: The Next Web