Amazon's Drone Take-Over
NEW YORK (MainStreet) Type "Drones" into Amazon's search window and you get over 2,000 results under Books. It seems there's a book out every week chronicling the explosive impact drones have had on warfare and modern politics.
Largely ignored though is the domain of groundbreaking civilian applications that are being planned around drones.All that might change with Amazon's plan to use drones to deliver directly to your doorstep.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took the opportunity on a "60 Minutes" interview on CBS to herald this electrifying news. Amazon has branded the service "Prime Air," piggybacking on the popularity of its premium $79-a-year service.
How do we know this is not hype but stuff that works?
Bezos showed off his 30-minute delivery service in a video for the skeptics. According to Bezos, these "octocopters" have the ability to carry packages as heavy as five pounds and for a distance of 10 miles.
Building their own infrastructure and getting the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)which currently prohibits flying of drones in civilian airspaceto approve Prime Air will take four to five years as per the Amazon CEO's estimates. However, Bezos is convinced that this is the future, not just a blue skies project.
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Given Amazon's pioneering DNA it has been a bit surprising that it took so long to go public with the drone delivery service.
The French were the first to announce drones on the paper route.That turned out to be a prank. However, Chinese company SF Express was dead serious when it began to trial drones for delivering packages in the city of Dongguan. Australian textbook rental startup Zookal also beat Amazon to the punch, at least on the announcements front it plans to start in Sydney with a fleet of six drones, and customers can track the drones' flight path with an Android app.
While the customers drool over the cool stuff, companies serious about drones have to invest in technology snf in months of trials in real-world scenarios to get regulatory approvals. A behemoth like Amazon should be able to withstand the pulls and pressures of this period, but can the startups?
It is perhaps Amazon's track record as being a great executor of great ideas from e-tail to e-books that is the greatest plus for Prime Air, which seems destined for the prime time.
--Written by Preetam Kaushik for MainStreet