Delivery drones – coming soon to a home near you..

By December 3, 2013 3 Comments

Amazon drone 2

Regular readers will know that I’m interested in robots. I think they will transform many elements of business and society over the next twenty years so I was very interested to read about Jeff Bezos announcement that Amazon has been experimenting with drone delivery and hopes to put the service live as early as 2015.

Aside from the amusing question of whether Bezos deliberately timed this headline grabbing announcement to generate publicity for Amazon on the eve of cyber Monday, it’s interesting to ponder how much this will change things. The drones will apparently be able to deliver packages weighing up to 5lbs in 30 minutes. Assuming the cost is negligible (it will be free if included as part of Amazon Prime which looks to be the case) then to my mind for many people buying from Amazon with a few clicks on a smartphone and having goods in your hand within the hour without leaving the sofa or kitchen table is going to be a no-brainer. The decline in physical retail will accelerate and other ecommerce businesses will have to find a way to compete. It may well be that Fedex and UPS start operating a drone delivery service that allows other businesses to match Amazon. That might be a startup opportunity.

I was also interested to read Makezine’s analysis of the hurdles Amazon will have to beat to launch drone delivery:

  • Battery power
  • Weather
  • Theft
  • Navigation
  • Safety
  • The FAA

They describe each of these in a bit of detail, and they all seem surmountable. Getting regulation from the FAA is perhaps the most difficult to predict, but I’m sure it will come eventually.

Drone delivery is on it’s way.