Well-Timed PR Stunt Or Future Reality?
Amazon Unveils Flying Delivery Drones
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has unveiled a new invention, delivery by flying robot drones.
The service, currently undergoing testing, is called Amazon Prime Air (also known as Octocopters) and is due to be rolled out in 2015 once approved by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Amazon’s aim is to improve its efficiency to boost growth.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved the use of drones for police and government agencies, issuing about 1,400 permits over the past several years.
A video of how the service will work has been posted to YouTube, showing the process of the package being sourced from the warehouse floor and then delivered to the front steps of the customer’s home. The idea is to have the drone deliver orders weighing up to 2.3kg in roughly 30 minutes after the customer hits the “buy” button on Amazon.com.
Mr Bezos told reporters, "I know this looks like science fiction, but it's not. We can do half-hour delivery... and we can carry objects, we think, up to five pounds (2.3kg), which covers 86% of the items that we deliver."
The Drone will be able to deliver a product to your door in 30 minutes but it has received some scepticism from critics who say it might also steal your pocket-size pets or help the NSA take photos of your living room!
Amazon commented further, "from a technology point of view, we'll be ready to enter commercial operations as soon as the necessary regulations are in place. One day, Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today."
Reality or just a well-timed stunt?
In theory, it's a great idea but is this invention reality or just a well-timed stunt to mask the recent damming reports about the world's largest online retailer?
One such report includes a BBC investigation into a UK-based Amazon warehouse which discovered employee conditions that a stress expert said could cause "mental and physical illness."
The BBC said, “Prof Michael Marmot was shown secret filming of night shifts involving up to 11 miles of walking - where an undercover worker was expected to collect orders every 33 seconds.”
Adam Littler went undercover after being employed via an agency job at Amazon's Swansea warehouse. He took a hidden camera inside for BBC Panorama to record what happened on his shifts.
Zookal use drones to make deliveries
Zookal, an Australian textbook rental company, announced earlier this year that it would start using drones to make deliveries from 2015 if approved by Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority. Australian law allows the use of unmanned aircraft for commercial use.
Panorama: The Truth Behind The Click, BBC One, Monday 25 November at 20:30 GMT, available in the UK on the BBC iPlayer.
Mashable, 2 December 2013.
BBC, 2 December 2013.