As we continue to revolutionize technology, we not only affect our lifestyles but our interactions with others.
Recently, Amazon announced that have earned a patent for drone shipping, thus setting a precedent in the shipping industry. These drone will supposedly fly over to a house, hover over the yard, and safely drop the package by parachute.
Now, what does the creating of “Amazon Prime Air” mean for the consumer? Well, for one, shipping times may be quicker. Through automation a truck may be able to deliver multiple packages at once, instead of driving a route dropping off one package at a time. Decreasing a workforce also leaves less room for human error during delivery. This service can be beneficial for homes in rural areas or ones with deep driveways reducing the risk for the truck driver.
On the other hand, many things can go wrong with automation. One is that computers, like humans, can be unpredictable. During delivery you run the risk of drones/parachutes malfunctioning and crashing, leading to damages. Other issues can just come from mother nature herself. A single gust of wind could possibly blow a smaller, lighter package off course or even onto a roof.
Another hindrance to the drone delivery service are the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) regulations on commercial aircraft. One such regulation is that drones must remain in the eyesight of the pilot. This causes a snag in Amazon’s initial plan since the company had planned to use the drones remotely, and navigating through a North Raleigh subdivision while always having an eye on the drone could be tricky. Another regulation is that a pilot who operates a commercial drone must have “remote pilot airman certificate” issued by the FAA. This certification is composed of a knowledge test (that must be performed at a certified testing center, an application process and a training course. This lengthy process may prove problematic for Amazon to have all of their truck drivers certified.
Other companies like UPS have begun to jump on the drone bandwagon. On a recent live stream, UPS performed a test fly for a drone that they can load and launch out of the roof of the delivery truck. The the initial flight went well, but the second test was more problematic as the drone was almost crushed but the sliding panel on the truck’s roof.
This test just goes to show how far we have to go perfecting the use of drones; it may not be long, however, before we do.