Lately it has been all over the news that Amazon is experimenting with the idea of delivering smaller packaged using their drone service. They claim that in certain areas people will have their package within 30 minutes of ordering online through this revolutionary delivery service. By using octocopters and GPS, Amazon prime users would be able to have their packages (that weigh less than 5 pounds) delivered right to their door step via Amazon Prime Air. The idea sounds good, and is an interesting science fiction concept. However, there is a lot more to it that just the appearances.
Pros of Amazon Prime Air
This new service will have many benefits. The biggest bonus to the consumer is that delivery will be a whole lot faster. Currently Amazon uses the USPS, FedEx, and UPS to ship their packages. Each one of these has a fastest time of next day delivery. By allowing for delivery in under an hour, Amazon will have a huge leg-up on the competition. By using their own service, Amazon is eliminating the need to pay extra for delivery charges. While this is good for the company, it is unlikely that any of that will filter back to the consumer. The robotics and drone market is still vastly undeveloped, but using them will help improve this new niche. Besides all of this, it is futuristic and a fun concept.
Cons of Amazon Prime Air
Even though it is “cool” to think of little unmanned aircraft hovering around, there are some serious consequences that come with the idea. Primarily will be the loss of jobs. Warehouses, packaging, shipping, and delivery employ thousands upon thousands of people. As robotics start to take over these jobs, people begin to lose their means of income. Taking away the delivery boy job means more people out of work. In addition, there are some serious safety concerns. Everything from the drones crashing into buildings, to landing on people’s heads, to paranoid citizens shooting them out of the sky are all valid concerns. In order to help prevent loss to the company, these drones will likely be equipped with cameras. That raises the question of invasion of privacy, and what the drone may record.
The cons are hard to ignore, and there are some serious issues that need to be addressed. Personally, I am all for this innovation and think it would be fun to see tiny aircraft buzzing about a city. The convenience of it all, the mystery of it all, and the uniqueness of the idea (although UPS and other carriers are all looking into the idea as well), are intriguing. “But what about the loss of jobs?” you may ask. And that is addressed quite simply. With a new niche industry popping up, there will need to be workers. People will need to service the machines, recalculate courses, build them, and track them down when they become lost. The bottom line is that the jobs will not be lost, but they will likely shift. Instead of people working as package carriers, they will now work as drone technicians (or something of the like). After all, this is how it has been throughout history. The automobile replaced horses and carriages, and I am sure there were hundreds, if not thousands, of stable hands that were indignant at the idea. But now look at how many people around the world have jobs because of the auto industry.
This technology is still several years away from being implemented in daily life. In fact, drones cannot be legally used for commercial purposes until the new laws and regulations are passed (they are scheduled to be finalized sometime in 2015). For now, it is still on the drawing board. There are kinks to work out (such as the safety concerns and legal applications of whether or not you can shoot down a drone on your property) and the public to win over (since most people associate “drone” with “unmanned aircraft that drops bombs”). Personally, I look forward to the time when I can look outside and see tiny helicopters zip by. It will be exciting.
Would you use delivery by drone?
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