Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver

David Wagner, Managing Editor | 12/3/2013 | 96 comments

David Wagner
Amazon will soon deliver tablets, clothes, or pretty much anything else you want in the same time it takes to get a pizza, and it might mean every retailer will need its own air force. Amazon says that, as soon as FAA regulations clear it (possibly by 2015), the company will experiment with delivering products weighing less than five pounds (86% of its offerings) in 30 minutes or less by drone.

The eight-rotor octocopter drones will pick up the merchandise from one of Amazon's many fulfillment centers and fly it to your front porch, like in this video.

Obviously, Amazon won't be doing this with all its packages, but it envisions this as a quick service for high-priority products and the potential future of the delivery business. There's a lot to be worked out with the FAA first, so we still don't know if brick-and-mortar retailers need to be worried. We do know one group of people who should be seriously worried: CIOs.

If retailers, restaurants (Chinese food by air, anyone?), and shipping companies start using drones, even in a limited fashion, guess who is going to have deploy them? CIOs. To make this work, some extensive changes will have to be made to the supply chain. There will need to be new, automated fulfillment processes and inventory management.

The drones themselves will require infrastructure changes, including communications, security, and programming. Something with your name on it would be flying around using remote signals. You wouldn't want it to be hijacked and turned into a weapon, would you? You wouldn't want drones to deliver your merchandise to the wrong house routinely and cost your company in lost merchandise. And the drones would be another thing to patch, maintain, and put on a refresh cycle.

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, is this science fiction or a near-horizon technology about to change our lives? There are a few hurdles to overcome to make this a successful business proposition.

  • Safety: Drones have triple the accident rate of manned vehicles. There are multiple reasons for this. People fly drones remotely, and the interface is often harder to deal with than one for a manned craft. With drones flying via programming, they are prone to bugs. If you have hundreds of drones flying overhead in urban environments, you've got to make sure they are safe. A few high-profile crashes could end the whole idea.

  • Scalability: Retail-oriented drones would likely fly at lower altitudes, where commercial air traffic is not an issue. One drone in the air would be no big deal, but when dozens or hundreds of drones are flying around, it becomes an absolute issue. If delivery drones for the Postal Service, UPS, FedEx, Amazon, and every pizza joint in town were all crisscrossing the skies, they would need their own air traffic control system. Who would pay for it, and how would it work?

  • Perception: Some people immediately distrust drones, because they were used first in military operations. In fact, a town in Colorado is offering a bounty for anyone who shoots down drones flying over their airspace. It is entirely possible we'll see scenes like this one play out all over America.

  • Privacy: The nightmare scenario is that drones mounted with cameras will be flying through our neighborhoods recording everything they see as they make their way to their customer. Who would own that data? How would it be kept? Could it be used against us legally? Would they see into our bedrooms and bathrooms?

There are also questions surrounding cost and the feasibility of a business plan for delivering a single package. But as drone capabilities increase and costs fall (both are inevitable), the reality of drone delivery -- not to mention driverless vehicle delivery -- will draw nearer.

It seems almost inevitable that we will soon live in a world with hundreds of tiny drones flying through the air and serving us. Retail CIOs need to prepare for the changes to supply chains and communications infrastructure. Government CIOs need to prepare to track all these new potential threats to national security and to safety. Are you ready?

What do you think about retail drones? Will they be a new paradigm in shopping, or will they just crash and burn? How will we handle the influx of technology in our enterprises and government? Tell us below.

View Comments: Threaded | Newest First | Oldest First
SaneIT   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/3/2013 8:25:00 AM
Inevitable?
I think it's easy to sit back and dream of how this might work in a perfect world but when I think about the reality of flying drones over neighborhoods I just see a very expensive experiment.  Assuming the best it won't take long before a lightning strike takes down a drone with a 5lbs payload and it lands on a moving car.  Or a gust of wind pushes a drone into a power line and it takes out power for a couple neighborhoods.  Or a random failure results in a drone hitting a human just walking along minding their own business.  Each incident will be met with lawsuits and settlements.  Multiply the issues by the thousands of drones they will need to service a metropolitan area with their 30 minutes promise and we'll have a repeat of the days where Dominos drivers were seen as the scourge of neighborhoods everywhere except it will be death from above rather than a compact car blowing a stop sign.
jastro   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/3/2013 9:29:39 AM
Re: Inevitable?
@dave -- I can't quite see it for urban use, since whizzing past the 40th floor of the Empire State building might be an issue

But what about in rural or ex-urban places, in and outside the US -- far from distribution centers per se. Would that make more sense?
Ariella   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/3/2013 9:44:16 AM
Re: Inevitable?
The Amazon drone idea has spawned a number of images on the internet, the most popular of which is 

But I also like the one that shows the US Post office's reponse
Nomi   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/3/2013 10:07:10 AM
Re: Inevitable?
@Ariella those companys are in a fix that why they cannot think of this option earlier. I believe there are always less number of supporters and good number of people against the new ideas. I am sure that this idea will be practicle may be not at a  mega scale but definitely at a limited scale at least.
tjgkg   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/3/2013 11:12:02 AM
Re: Inevitable?
I'm all for new and inventive ideas and new ways of doing things but this doesn't seem like it was thought through. I'm not sure if removing the road congestion of trucks to the air is a very good idea. We can control the traffic on the roads to a great extent. In the air, with that volume, I don't think so. We might as well wait for a transporter device to deliver the products inside our home to a receiving pod.
tjgkg   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/3/2013 11:08:31 AM
Re: Inevitable?
Absolutely brillant!
Nomi   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/3/2013 10:02:56 AM
Re: Inevitable?
@jastro I don not think it as a bad preposition at all. There is one medium which is less used then other as roads and sea. I think its a futuristic one but a practicle one. The only problem is the excessive usage of low air space with the heavy traffic with no rules to mangae it   :). I think the rules for air space management will imply here and this space will be given under whom control. A real difficult question to answer.
kicheko   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/3/2013 11:42:55 AM
Re: Inevitable?
This idea looks beautiful even though i am concerned about the accident issues and also curious about how economical it is. I also agree with David about the potential privacy issues. Still i totally want one of those deliveries some day.
tjgkg   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/3/2013 11:16:05 AM
Re: Inevitable?
Well said. While drones popping by to deliver a book seems interesting, in reality it does not seem feasible at all. There are too many issues to overcome. The biggest I see is controlling all that traffic. Can you imagine a bunch of drones getting sucked into a jet engine the way birds do now?
Ariella   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/3/2013 11:48:38 AM
Re: Inevitable?
@tjgkg I can imagine a Birds update in which drones around the world gather together and attack.
Sara Peters   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/3/2013 11:56:03 AM
Re: Inevitable?
@Ariella  "I can imagine a Birds update in which drones around the world gather together and attack."  Oh my goodness! The horror! Somebody in Hollywood get on that idea right now.

Ariella   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/3/2013 12:40:24 PM
Re: Inevitable?
LOL @Sara Why not? There was  a nod to the Hitchcock classic in one of the scenes of "Catching Fire." Next step is to do it with drones.
jastro   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/3/2013 1:03:13 PM
Re: Inevitable?
I apologize in advance for this reflexsive comment...

 

Can I order a Drone Kit from Amazon, and have it delivered by a Drone?
Ariella   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/3/2013 1:11:29 PM
Re: Inevitable?
@Sara and people are already designing possible posters for it:


Hayder   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/3/2013 3:25:35 PM
Safety/Flight Safety Concerns

I have grave concerns regarding the flight safety of these drones because there is a dreadful need of its infrastructure. Besides peoples, purchasing these should be capable to handle a drone during its flight from point "X" to any destination. Subsequently if we look this in a broader scenario than there is a need of proper regulatory authority which is liable to handle all the air traffic to avoid any undesirable incident. I think Amazon must look into these things before launching on stage. 

Qasim Bajwa   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/3/2013 5:07:51 PM
Re: Safety/Flight Safety Concerns
It seems almost inevitable that we will soon live in a world with hundreds of tiny drones flying through the air and serving us

@David, true. No matter what our reservations are about this idea, at one point we'll happily accept it. I don't know who would 'we' be maybe in a 100 years, our Grand children? But as of right now, in another 5 years or so, I don't think this idea is even remotely feasible.
Qasim Bajwa   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/3/2013 5:18:05 PM
Re: Safety/Flight Safety Concerns
@Hayder, I don't completely agree with you. People can never be given the right to control their drone, who knows what they decide to do with it next ?

Besides, controlling a drone itself will require skill beyond that of a layman. This will only make things more complicated. 

 

 
Hayder   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/4/2013 11:48:02 AM
Re: Safety/Flight Safety Concerns
@Qasim 

 

My point of concerns is not regarding that an individual is controlling a drone instead my concern is exactly regarding the standard opertaing procedures of its controlling as well as need of proper regulatory authority. Moreover , Amazon must look in to this that who is a buyer? a propoer qualified one or a layman.? Because if juzz look at the aviation industry than any person capable of purchasing an aircraft can get any aircraft (according to procedure in vogue) no matter he is a professional or a layman.

Qasim Bajwa   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/4/2013 12:11:28 PM
Re: Safety/Flight Safety Concerns
@Hayder, Amazon must look in to this that who is a buyer? a propoer qualified one or a layman.

Buyer who ? Who are you referring to?We are the buyer let's say, but Amazon is not selling drones. I'm not sure i'm getting what your'e trying to say.
Hayder   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/4/2013 12:50:07 PM
Re: Safety/Flight Safety Concerns
@Qasim I basically agree to your point. I am relating to rules and regulations devised to ascertain that who is basically given the authority to use these drones for aforesaid purpose. Whether it is amzon or any other company, they are to follow certain rules and regulations,  under control of aviation authority so that someone needs to be looking at the activity as well.  :)
Hayder   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/5/2013 11:40:34 AM
Re: Safety/Flight Safety Concerns
@ Qasim 

Well right at the on set I am referring need of Standard operating procedures afterwards by buyers means Amazon itself. 

tjgkg   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/4/2013 5:25:01 AM
Re: Inevitable?
@Ariella: Even worse if they attack you in the shower!
SaneIT   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/4/2013 8:08:57 AM
Re: Inevitable?
I can see why they announced this, it's fun, cutting edge and shows that hey are forward thinking.  The problem though is that as you mentioned life isn't a lab environment.  I would suspect that like most distribution centers Amazon's will be near airports and flight traffic is going to be interesting to say the least.  There are so many factors to look at though that I don't see how it could work.  Where do you land the drones for delivery? Are they going to leave a box on my front lawn because it's too difficult to get the drone and a package onto my front porch?  What about the first time one of them hits an eagle which could be a very real possibility near me?
tjgkg   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/4/2013 8:32:41 AM
Re: Inevitable?
The first time a drone hits an eagle that's it. All the animal rights groups will come out like they have against using border collies near JFK to keep birds out of jet engines!! A good thing to come out of this would be a hiring spree for drone pilots. But would pilots be responsible for one drone at a time or dozens?
tjgkg   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/4/2013 8:56:21 AM
Re: Inevitable?
Agreed. And I am curious as to how much Amazon would charge for this service and what kind of merchandise would qualify for Drone Delivery? Would the packages have the same content restrictions as regular mail? What if the recipient has to sign for the package? Lots of questions. Lots of bureaucaracy.
Pedro Gonzales   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/4/2013 12:56:31 PM
Re: Inevitable?
There are many issues the government has to determine before we can start seeing drones over our air space.  I can see this being more popular in remote towns where such drones can provide service to these communities.  Another issue which we haven't raise is airspace.  I know that planes are restricted to fly in specific areas, would communities protest on the ownership of their airspace is they start seeing drones.
tjgkg   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/4/2013 1:09:57 PM
Re: Inevitable?
The airspace issue is one that will be setlled by the FAA. There are very defined rules for air traffic which are enforeced by air traffic controllers. Since the raison d'etre of the drones is to fly direct to your doorstep which regular planes cannot do, who is going to control this? WHat altitude will these devices fly? Will they be cost effective in rural places only? Airspace is a small part of the equation. The bigger equation is what will be the flight paths and who will be controlling all that extra air traffic?
SaneIT   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/5/2013 7:43:25 AM
Re: Inevitable?
@tjgkg well for starters we know that the item has to be within the payload size and weight restrictions fo the drones but I aslo suspect that some items will not be allowed to fly just in case the drone comes down hard. 
tjgkg   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/5/2013 10:10:16 AM
Re: Inevitable?
@SaneIT: There is a pretty long list of restricted items on the USPS list. I am sure they would start with those first. I wonder if they are going to use different drones for different locales such as urban, suburban, rural, etc. Also for larger and smaller packages. And maybe there will be the capability to have multiple deliveries in one flight plan. Lots of things to work through although I doubt this method will be used in cities.
freespiritny25   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/5/2013 1:38:27 PM
Re: Inevitable?
@ tjgkg I agree...I can't see the drones flying around the city. Well- maybe flying around, but not landing safely.
tjgkg   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   1/4/2014 1:14:29 PM
Re: Inevitable?
I can't even see them flying around safely let alone landing. There are so many tall buildings in Manhattan. In the outer boro's I can't really see how a drone will be able to deliver to all the blocks of apartments. And with two major airports and all those helicopters, and the memory of 9-11, I cannot see this as viable in NYC.
batye   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   2/6/2014 4:48:31 PM
Re: Inevitable?
technology changing our world and our way of thinking... in 16 century no one think about cars trains... we never know...
tjgkg   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   3/1/2014 1:25:02 PM
Re: Inevitable?
I think they did think about cars and trains in the 16th century. They just did not have the technology perfected. The drones are here but because of the way we have configured our society, they would be quite disruptive. It would be easier to have goods "beamed" over to households instead of drone dropped. But that technology is not here yet.
batye   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   3/1/2014 2:00:30 PM
Re: Inevitable?
yes, agree most of the time with technology is only mater of time before technology get properly polished to become useful... same as with Netbook/Tablets... now we could not live with out them...
tjgkg   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   3/3/2014 9:27:50 AM
Re: Inevitable?
I remember how the financial press reacted when the iPad came out. They really had few kind words to say about it and thought Jobs lost it. Little did they know how useful and popular the device would shortly become. In fact the iPad (along with Win8.x) has been responsible for the decline in PC sales.
batye   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   3/3/2014 5:42:17 PM
Re: Inevitable?
everything is changings as tablets gaining ground and pushing out Laptops/Netbook/Desktop... as tablet with Cloud becoming way of the future...
tjgkg   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   3/4/2014 9:34:16 AM
Re: Inevitable?
I see the Windows adverts claiming that a Windows tablet/laptop combo allows you to do everything. I'm not really so sure about that since you still have to wait a bit for the device to boot up. Tablets are instant on. I find that my iPad is a great travel companion and if I wanted, I could use Office on it. Frankly I prefer a proper desktop or laptop to do that. Both have their roles but seperately. Maybe in the future there will be a device that does it all.
batye   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   3/4/2014 11:44:25 AM
Re: Inevitable?
I think few of the Co. have something in works with idea single device - all in one replace all...
tjgkg   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   4/11/2014 2:36:41 PM
Re: Inevitable?
Now that would be great.
batye   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   4/11/2014 10:14:42 PM
Re: Inevitable?
yes, I do hope we will see it one day...
tjgkg   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   4/12/2014 1:10:45 PM
Re: Inevitable?
Well they are trying now. There are a few manufacturers with dual mode products. And then there are smartphones!
glenbren   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   3/3/2014 4:13:02 PM
Re: Inevitable?
It would be easier to have goods "beamed" over to households instead of drone dropped. But that technology is not here yet.

"Beam me up Scottie" is even sounding more plausible now.
tjgkg   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   3/4/2014 9:27:43 AM
Re: Inevitable?
If that technology ever comes to pass I will never have to fly economy class again!
Qasim Bajwa   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/4/2013 12:25:22 PM
Re: Inevitable?
@SaneIT, I agree, It's an eye-catching idea, and your'e right it does show they are forward thinkers and leverging new technology to improve their business, in this case - delivery options.

Imagine grabbing one, reverse engineering it so it brings all the packages to you.


Nicky48   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/4/2013 1:48:18 PM
Re: Inevitable?
This would be SO SO cool !!!  Looking forward to seeing one land at my doorstep. However I will have to fight the urge to grab it quick and keep it for myself :-)
Susan Fourtané   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/4/2013 2:54:09 PM
Re: Inevitable?
Nicky, 

You might be initiating a war by keeping it for yourself. :) 

-Susan
User Ranking: Blogger
vnewman   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/4/2013 5:02:55 PM
Re: Inevitable?
I just saw this featured on 60 minutes and was in awe at the concept, but I forsee a big backlash because of the privacy issue for all the reasons David pointed out, not to mention the mass confusion it would cause the bird population!

But on a serious note - it may not be a feasible undertaking in heavily populated areas, but it would seem like a great way to get packages to remote places if they could pull it off logistically - but as many others pointed out - that may be too big of a hurdle for even amazon to clear.
Susan Fourtané   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/5/2013 4:58:37 AM
Re: Inevitable?
vnewman, 

"it would seem like a great way to get packages to remote places"

That's the one good, usuful use I see for this. Remote areas could get what they need, maybe for the first time.

-SusanF 
User Ranking: Blogger
vnewman   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/6/2013 7:01:13 PM
Re: Inevitable?
@Susan - and wouldn't it be great to use this kind of technology to deliver medicine to homebound, sick or elderly people when it absolutely can't wait for mail service?
Susan Fourtané   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/7/2013 2:47:47 AM
Re: Inevitable?
vnewman, 

Yes! Definitely. :) Or some other cases. Today I would love to have one of those drones coming through my window, and delivering everything I need. Not feeling well, will have to stay in bed all day. :/ 

-Susan
User Ranking: Blogger
Henrisha   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/9/2013 4:49:32 AM
Re: Inevitable?
Same here, Susan! I'm feeling a bit under the weather myself. I suspect the flu. Wouldn't it be neat if a drone chugged through the window delivering meds, while another came in with chicken soup? I know there are complications, but it's an exciting thing to imagine.
Susan Fourtané   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/9/2013 5:20:15 AM
Re: Inevitable?
Henrisha, 

Yes! :D That's the world I want to live in. You make your orders from the comfort of your bed on your favorite mobile device. You open the window, and wait. After a few minutes a drone comes through with the meds for your flu. A moment later another drone delivers your chicken soup. Finally, a happy drone comes in with the cake for your tea. :) Everything while you are watching a movie.  

Get weel soon! 

-SusanF
User Ranking: Blogger
David Wagner   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/19/2013 11:12:15 PM
Re: Inevitable?
@susan- Interestingly enough, that's a stop gap, right? Eventually you just set the -D printer by your bed and print your soup. :)
Susan Fourtané   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/20/2013 3:49:19 AM
Re: Inevitable?
David, 

That's true! I almost forgot about the 3D printed soup. :D 

-Susan 
User Ranking: Blogger
Henrisha   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/9/2013 4:49:08 AM
Re: Inevitable?
@vnewman, good point. Drones would be so much help to those who are in need of medication or supplies. I think it's worthwhile for some providers to look into this, considering the time element.
freespiritny25   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/5/2013 1:44:48 PM
Re: Inevitable?
@ vnewman I was worried about the birds too. It does seem like it *could* work in remote areas.
Nomi   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/5/2013 2:03:19 PM
Re: Inevitable?
@Freespritiny why you think that it could not work in the remote areas. If you see the drones used for spying over other countries can fly with remote link these rural areas are in the same country :). I am sure that the tech is advance enough to provide drones with that sofistication that with the remote link down, they can still find there way to the destination nad back safely.
Broadway   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/6/2013 8:31:04 AM
Re: Inevitable?
@Nomi, I guess one's optimism about drone capabilities depends on whether you believe the gov that has overseen their development is the one where its spy agency has devised unprecedented snooping technology, and not the gov that oversees a failed launch of a health care shopping website.
Nomi   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/9/2013 10:34:57 AM
Re: Inevitable?
@Broadway I beg your pardon as I missed your reply. Can you please elaborate your concern for my understanding. Thanks
Hospice_Houngbo   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/8/2013 7:46:06 PM
Re: Inevitable?
@freespiritny25: What about the birds? Drones will just be like other birds in the sky going about their business as do other creatures flying in the sky.
Henrisha   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/9/2013 4:50:26 AM
Re: Inevitable?
Unless the birds are really aggressive, I don't think they'll attack the drone now. Would they? Lol. (But this is a serious musing!)
SaneIT   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/5/2013 7:35:19 AM
Re: Inevitable?
I'm sure I'm going to end up on a watch list for this but GPS spoofing seems the most reasonable way to do do that.  Just set up in a secluded spot near the distribution point, which shouldn't be hard because it is often near and airport with lots of open spaces then point your antenna at the ones you want to fly down to you. You could even catch and release sending them back to their original route like nothing happened.
Nomi   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/5/2013 1:59:42 PM
Re: Inevitable?
@SaneITI agree with you that there are and will be certain hurdles which seems difficult to pass but with the will and home work done these things can be removed. I am sure the oncept is naive but a practical one with few hiccups but once things get settles we will be seeing as a best think that can happen.
SaneIT   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/6/2013 7:13:21 AM
Re: Inevitable?
@Nomi honestly I think we'll see Google develop a solution using their robot cars sooner than we'll see airborne drones delivering packages.  The FAA isn't particularly fast moving and we can already see what happens when cities try to get permission to put drones in the air for things like traffic monitoring or chasing suspected criminals.  Those instances are government entities trying to put a handful of drones in the air, Amazon is a private company looking to put potentially thousands of drones in the air. It's a long uphill battle and I think someone will roll out a ground based solution first.  
Nomi   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/9/2013 10:32:53 AM
Re: Inevitable?
@SaneITtrue. Things are looking difficult on ground and it lookslike a far fetched idea as well but if we look into its practicability, keeping all bench marks aside, its a very positive thinking. As far as ground base solution is concerned, I think we already have our most of the bases covered to need some naive idea.
SaneIT   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/10/2013 7:36:13 AM
Re: Inevitable?
@Nomi, ground based solutions could be much better, the limitation now is that you need a human to pilot those trucks that are carrying packages.  Once robot driving cars hit the streets I think we'll see the ground based companies shifting to many smaller vehicles controlled by robots.
David Wagner   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/19/2013 11:08:46 PM
Re: Inevitable?
@SaneIT- I suspect well see a combination of trucks and drones. What about something like a truck to carry bulk loads to a central location and a few drones to take the packages from the trucks to the doorstep?

Something, either a walking robot or a flying one needs to take those last steps.
SaneIT   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/20/2013 12:20:06 PM
Re: Inevitable?

Seeing that Google just bought Boston Dynamics I see this two phase approach coming. A robot driven truck similar to the size of a UPS truck that contains a smaller robotic delivery bot.  Think 3 or 4 Bigdog bots unloading from a truck and dropping packages off a mile or two away then returning.  This gives them a home base for recharging and lets them put one truck in a central location then send out the bots in a spoke pattern. One day someone is going to pay me for these ideas.

David Wagner   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/20/2013 1:38:38 PM
Re: Inevitable?
@SaneIt- I think you are mostly right. But I do think they see the air service as a premium service for special products. But i agree that we're not ever going to see air delivery supplant ground delivery.
SaneIT   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/23/2013 7:39:31 AM
Re: Inevitable?
I know they really want to do the airborne drone delivery but I just see a lot of problems that would stop that in it's tracks quickly due to costs that there is no way they can fully predict.
singlemud   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/30/2013 5:14:43 PM
Re: Inevitable?
I totally agree, use Drone to Deliver may work for some special case, rural areas with no road access. I can not imagine these can be used in massive scale in big cities
SaneIT   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/31/2013 8:43:35 AM
Re: Inevitable?
I think for Amazon the first step should be flying these in their own warehouses.  That seems like the environment where they could be the most useful.  Controlled air flow, close proximity to charging stations and a crash isn't going to damage someone else's property.
Sara Peters   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/31/2013 2:12:09 PM
Re: Inevitable?
@singlemud  Ah, now that makes sense -- using flying drones to access remote areas with no road access. I wonder if there would be enough commercial need for that to make it worth the cost of the drones and their maintenance.

Sara Peters   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/31/2013 2:10:15 PM
Re: Inevitable?
@SaneIT Hmm. I don't know if I like this idea. "A robot driven truck similar to the size of a UPS truck that contains a smaller robotic delivery bot." So far I haven't seen a bot that moves fast enough, or can hop up curbs, shimmy through tightly parked cars, or dodge mud puddles as well as delivery people.

SaneIT   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   1/2/2014 7:20:18 AM
Re: Inevitable?
Really?  Meet SandFlea http://www.bostondynamics.com/robot_sandflea.html ,  RHex http://www.bostondynamics.com/robot_rhex.html and RiSe http://www.bostondynamics.com/robot_rise.html not to mention the humaniod robots Boston Dynamics is working on.  I think the three little bots could be easily modified to deliver small packages from a centeralized vehicle.
tjgkg   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/3/2013 11:08:04 AM
Drone On
I cannot imagine this taking place, surely Amazon was pulling our leg? Can you see literally thousands of drones in the air at once going to all sorts of different destinations? That is just chaos. Who is going to control that traffic? What will the impact to the environment be? Can you imagine looking up in the sky and see it clouded with drones? It does not even seem cost effective if only one package can be delivered at a time. Even the Predators have TWO Hellfire missiles on them...
Damian Romano   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/3/2013 12:56:39 PM
Re: Drone On
@tjgkg - I'm kind of with you on this. Seems pretty outlandish and farfetched to even be considered a real possibility. The security concerns alone are something that I don't see making this kosher. 
tjgkg   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/4/2013 5:28:32 AM
Re: Drone On
@Damian Romano: I think it is great to think big and out of the box. However this is just so poorly thoughout that it seems like he is pulling our leg. Even when I was a kid I wondered how you control all that air traffic on The Jetsons! This is worse because these are small vehicles that fly low and do not have a pilot on board.
Damian Romano   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/4/2013 7:30:38 AM
Re: Drone On
@tjgkg - Right, like there's nothing in place currently that would suggest regulations are being considered. It's too all-of-the-sudden for me to think this could be a reality in the near future. Five years from now, maybe, since the idea has now spawned. But even two years into the future would surprise me. 
tjgkg   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/4/2013 8:10:10 AM
Re: Drone On
@Damian Romano: Regulations are going to be a big deal, especially with the FAA. Can you imagine literally thousands of drones descending on a major metropolitan area like NY or LA in one day on top of all the regular air traffic? You could be correct that in a few years the FAA will craft regulations to deal with this but I am not sure how effective they will be. On top of that what kind of quality of life will we have with all these things coming down at us or travelling in the skies above us? With thousands more projectiles in the air, there is a much increased chance for error like one of them hitting a person or a vehicle. This might be better suited to deliver packages to rural places where there is little chance of interference, but not in big cities.
Damian Romano   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/4/2013 10:05:37 AM
Re: Drone On
@tjgkg - In the end it just doesn't seem like a feesible solution. I don't see UPS/DHL/FedEx going anywhere anytime soon. 
tjgkg   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/4/2013 10:14:41 AM
Re: Drone On
@Damian Romano: For now I don't see it as feesable. I do see it potentially being used in rural areas-after they work out the process issues though. With regard to UPS/DHL/FedEx, I am wondering if there were people who said that all those additional planes in the sky might not be such a good idea. In the end accomodations were made and we have three additional delivery companies that provide a much needed service. There are a lot more kinks with the drones, but maybe a part of that vision can be used.
Sara Peters   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/3/2013 11:53:15 AM
I HATE THIS
No. No, I won't have it. On my block there are so many residences that you'd need a zillion drones to bring us all our daily deliveries. I can only imagine how many of these dang drones will be flying around, sounding like giant insects. It will be worse than those 17-year cicadas. No way. If a drone flies too close to me, I will whack it out of the air with an umbrella. Take that, Amazon.
Qasim Bajwa   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/3/2013 5:23:01 PM
Re: I HATE THIS
@Sara haha, and maybe the next thing we decide to do is toshoot the drone down and steal our neighbour's order ? :D
My apologies too much violence there. Countless possibilities like these which make the idea seem absurd.
LuFu   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/3/2013 4:43:16 PM
Pull!
Ah, nothing like a little urban skeet shooting to wake up the neighborhood.
Qasim Bajwa   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/3/2013 5:28:12 PM
Let's be optimistic!
If the weather is rough for a person to deliver my order,and i need my order real bad and the only way to get it delivered is via drone, then it's not such a bad idea is it ?

Here's another one, fresh bagals every morning at your doorstep, nice right ?
Hospice_Houngbo   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/3/2013 9:31:07 PM
Re: Let's be optimistic!
@Qasim: In bad weathers, it can also be difficult for drones to operate. Anyway, I have nothing against retail companies using drones to deliver goods to their customers as long as the safety and privacy concerns are resolved.
freespiritny25   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/5/2013 1:34:25 PM
Re: Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver
Pretty amazing stuff. I remember when Amazon only sold books...they've come a long way. I would really love it if a eight-rotor octocopter drone could deliver me a cup of coffee right now!
impactnow   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/9/2013 11:40:58 PM
hard hat please
 

I love technology and all it has done to improve my life but these drones are just not feasible in my opinion. I would be terrified they would malfunction and hit someone or an animal. I think the idea is just not realistic. The reliability would be questionable in weather etc. and theft would certainly be an issue. I think this is more about publicity than reality.
ProgMan   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/11/2013 6:40:38 AM
Re: hard hat please
Yeah, I echo this, I really can't see the feasibility of the drone idea.  Although the thought of a drone that could kill a terrorist and deliver my amazon package to me is pretty cool.  I would probably pay extra for that even if it took an extra week for the drone to complete it's primary mission.
Technocrat   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/11/2013 10:23:42 PM
Re: hard hat please
I was as surprised as anyone to learn that Amazon is developing a Drone based delivery option.  Sure it will take years to perfect, but I just don't think the FAA will ultimately approve this kind of use of drones.  Didn't these use to be classified ?  Well once upon a time I suppose.   But I didn't think Drones were available for popular consumption either.  

Or maybe Amazon gets special treatment since they are working with the government anyhow.
David Wagner   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/19/2013 11:07:05 PM
Re: hard hat please
@technocrat- All sorts of things have gone from classfied to commercial. GPS is probably the most obvious. 

I think if someone can work out the air traffic control aspect, the rest is gravy. But that's a tough problem.
David Wagner   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/19/2013 11:10:40 PM
Re: hard hat please
@impactnow- I doubt the hitting people problem is all that big of a deal. These things are pretty light. Obviously if they feel from 1,000 feet, that would hurt, but a couple of lbs bumping into you in free flight at 15-20 mph would hurt, but it wouldn't be deadly.
kstaron   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/19/2013 10:17:56 AM
Lawsuit waiting to happen?
This all seems very 'jetsons" like with remote little drones dropping off packages. If this becomes popular I worder how long it takes before there's a lawsuit because a drone accidently hit someone, or caused someone to indirectly to have an accident? without good traffic control, this could get ugly quick.

Also the idea of drones filming everything is more than a bit creepy.
David Wagner   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/19/2013 11:05:37 PM
Re: Lawsuit waiting to happen?
@kstaron- The lawsuits certainly would happen. Just like there are lawsuits after nearly every plane crash. But i suspect that drones would be protected legally unless someone could prove negligence like anything else.

Also, assuming the things are even vaguely well-tested, it should be pretty hard for it to hit someone. The things are noisy so if they are functioning correctly you know they're coming.
nasimson   Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver   12/22/2013 7:10:49 AM
Re: Amazon to Use Drones to Deliver
The feeling of getting my shopping bags at my doorstep in no time via drones gives me butterflies in my stomach. However, the weaknesses you have pointed out must be resolved soon in order to hit a home run.

Would you mind if Santa drops your present via drones this Christmas? 
Oh, I can hear the jingling sonic booms! 


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