Amazon made an announcement via the floor of Congress when they requisitioned the building blocks of the next phase in the online mega retailer’s business venture: delivery drones. And not just any delivery drones, Amazon is hoping to cash in on Domino’s late-80’s/early-90’s promise of “30 minutes or less.” That’s right, Amazon is coming up with the proper schematics that will allow you to order a book, DVD, etc. and have it on your doorstep in a matter of minutes. The technology is at its halfway point right now: We have the drones, we just haven’t got them quick enough. Drones move relatively slowly and some have a short battery life. These are just a few of the issues Amazon will have to address before rolling out this element of their enterprise to the general public.
Amazon Vice-President Paul Misener believes this will be of the upmost efficiency and convenience, telling Congress , “If a consumer wants a small item quickly, instead of driving to go shopping or causing delivery automobiles to come to her home or office, a small, electrically-powered (drone) vehicle will make the trip faster and more efficiently and cleanly.” One element that Misener hasn’t quite commented on is how much this might cost consumers needing their product as quickly as humanly (or dronely) possible.
Miseneer is looking to Congress to begin regulations on such a concept. As Stephen Ohlemacher of the Associated Press reported, “FAA’s proposed rules would require operators to keep commercial drones within eyesight at all times, which significantly limits the distance they can fly. The restriction probably would prevent drone delivery as proposed by Amazon.” If Congress approves of this new delivery system, then the drones will need to be able to fly from great distances at one moment in time. At this moment, even if there were regulations that allowed such a feat, Amazon does not have the capability to meet that “30 minutes or less” demand. Misener does, however, assure Congress and Internet-users that such technology will be ready once the government is ready to approve.
Some concerns for allowing drones to have a wider air space involve whether the drones might crash into each other or worse, airplanes. Ohlemacher states that as of right now, “FAA regulations permit recreational users to fly small drones as long as they stay at least 5 miles away from an airport, limit flights to less than 400 feet in altitude, keep the aircraft in line of sight and fly only during the daytime.” We’ll see what the future holds, but for now, keeping your eye to the sky for that package might be a little longer of a wait.