Amazon.com is one of the largest global Ecommerce sites. In November, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s Chief Executive Officer made waves with his announcement that the company is now testing drones to make package delivery more efficient and quicker. Though this service has not been launched and it is going to take an estimated 3 years to press these drones into service, a lot is being written and spoken about Amazon Prime Air. But interestingly, Amazon
is not the only company that is testing drones.
Unmanned Flights are Already in Testing Phase
Google and UPS are also testing these unmanned flight modules for their services. There was some unconfirmed news that UPS was testing and evaluating various methods in which these drones could be added to its existing brown delivery vehicle fleet. No confirmation has come in from the company but they have not negated the report either.
Apparently, Google was also testing drones in Silicon Valley for its Google Shopping Express. This is the Google same-day deliveries service that is available in San Francisco and its surrounding areas.
All of this sounds good, but there will be the obvious regulatory hurdles as well as some very practical ones that will surface. Many questions have been raised around privacy issues as well as the fact that these drones could be hazardous to children and pets. The price factor is another issue as these drones will cost the companies a pretty penny.
Drones like the MQ-9 Reaper
which is used in the Afghanistan battlefields costs approximately $12.5M while the Predator, another technologically-advanced drone that is used by the military costs $4-$5M. The Global Hawk which is a larger and more capable drone costs around $30,000/flight hour. Of course the Prime Air ones that may be used for deliveries by companies like Amazon might cost around $50,000 but their operating costs will run into hundreds of dollars/hour. Perhaps the companies who plan on using these drones will now have to figure out how to offset these high costs.