As online behemoth Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), in the midst of forcing the publishing industry on its knees as it controls nearly 50 percent of online book sales and is demanding a larger share of profits, apparently has a new target. The online retailer of all things is now pushing the US Federal Aviation Administration to grant the firm an exemption for drone testing.
Amazon’s drone delivery cost effectiveness remains unclear
The cost effectiveness of a drone delivering a single package remains unclear and likely wouldn’t be viable for many of Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)’s current products. The cost of a drone operator, safety of takeoffs and landings, navigating congestion in the sky and insurance could easily top $30 per delivery by my conservative, back of the napkin estimates.
Amazon likely has plans for the drone deliveries that involve high value products of a time sensitive nature or wants to expand into the growing business of drones itself. The Seattle, Washington company has stated in the past the service could be used for Amazon Prime to deliver goods in 30 minutes or less. It is unclear if once such a drone delivery infrastructure is built it will be offered as a general delivery service similar to that offered by Federal Express to generate additional revenue.
Amazon sends letter to FAA using political heft and job creation promise as leverage
Nonetheless, using its mighty political heft and the promise of creating jobs, the online retailer sent a letter to the FAA recently made public that said because of restrictions on drones in US airspace, the firm has been conducting test flights indoors and in other countries.
“Of course, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) would prefer to keep the focus, jobs, and investment of this important research and development initiative in the United States by conducting private research and development operations outdoors near Seattle,” the letter said, pushing the “jobs” political hot button that can at times move mountains.
The letter claimed over the past five months, “we have made advancements toward the development of highly?automated aerial vehicles for Prime Air,” which travel at over 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour and can carry loads up to five pounds (2.2 kilos), an article in Phys.org noted. What the letter didn’t say is how is traffic in the sky going to be managed when multiple drones, all whizzing around at 50 miles per hour on various missions, start running into each other.
FAA’s safety concerns
The letter to the FAA said the granting the request “will do nothing more than allow Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) to do what thousands of hobbyists and manufacturers of model aircraft do every day, and we will abide by much stronger safety measures than currently required for these groups.”
Perhaps the current model airplane market isn’t regulated. But populating the sky with technology that can be dangerous and invasive is something that, hopefully, is well planned.