Despite scepticism from critics saying Amazon’s proposed delivery-by-drone service is an impractical distraction, the company is totally earnest about one day delivering orders by way of the flying robots it showed off on CBS’s “60 Minutes” last year, according to Colin Lewis at RobotEnomics.
In the company’s drone delivery demo video — which was filmed in another country, likely in order to influence policy change surrounding commercial drone use in the United States — Amazon demonstrates a hypothetical future in which any item available through its Prime Air service can be delivered to your house in less than 30 minutes. And that’s exactly the future Amazon’s aiming at for four big reasons, writes Lewis:
Instant gratification. It normally takes two or three days for an order to arrive with a standard Amazon Prime subscription, but customers could now have the delight of seeing an order land at their doorstep in a measure of minutes. (It also increases the temptation to buy something purely for the sake of seeing a delivery drone in the flesh.)
Providing outstanding service. It’s innovation on delivery and logistics. UPS is reportedly investigating drone use as well.
Staying ahead of the curve with innovative delivery and order fulfillment. Amazon’s business is dependent on quality delivery. If drone use enables them to make more of these in an economically sensible way, than they will obviously investigate it quite fully.
Cost of transportation. Amazon spent over $US6.5 billion on shipping in 2013 and has lost a total of $US8.8 billion on shipping in the last three years combined. RobotEnomics has already done the maths, but the short answer is that human-piloted drones working at maximum efficiency for most of the day will of course reap the company huge savings. It’s also quite easy to imagine someone paying a high premium for near-instant delivery of a needed item, helping offset the costs even more.
Of course, the main hurdle to all of this is the nebulous regulatory territory. A few sanctioned, legally operational drone testing facilities are beginning to open up around the country to investigate various uses for unmanned aircrafts.