Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos revealed his ambitious plan to deliver packages through unmanned drones in 30 minutes or less. Though it’s not entirely impossible, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)’s bold vision will face several challenges from U.S. law, flight technology and people’s attitude toward drones. Bezos announced his plans through CBS News’ 60 Minutes Sunday night.
Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) is working on the Prime Air project. But it will take 4-5 years to improve the technology. The online retailer said its delivery drones will have a range of 10 miles. That will cover a large part of the urban population. Bezos’ drones can carry goods weighing up to five pounds, which covers more than 86% of total items shipped by Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN). The unmanned drones will receive GPS coordinates of the delivery address, and won’t even require humans to control them remotely. The drones can fly to the given address, avoiding power lines, buildings and other obstacles, reports the Associated Press.
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Amazon’s vision and FAA
But the project is surrounded with several challenges. First, the Federal Aviation Administration doesn’t have necessary regulations to fly commercial drones. The FAA allows the application of drones only by government entities on a case-to-case basis. Of course, it currently allows drones for recreation use. The FAA has been slow in coming up new regulations. Last year, Congress asked it to approve the use of drones to the U.S. skies by the end of 2015. But the FAA believes the process will take much longer than planned. It has already missed several deadlines in the past.
Even if the FAA proposes rules by 2015, there would be several restrictions as to where drones can fly. That may limit Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)’s drone delivery plans. Moreover, the use of drones in heavily populated areas and cities like Washington D.C. may not be feasible because there are too many no-fly zones.
Other issues Amazon will have to tackle
There are a number of other concerns. For example, the octocopters are likely to have a 30 minute battery life. And the battery life could be shorter with added weight of the packages. Who is going to recharge the batteries? And how frequently will the drones need service? And a big question is, how is Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) going to make sure that its drones safely navigate through the skies without hitting a building, bird or a power line? Who is to blame if it crashes into a building? Who will insure the deliveries? Homeland security, privacy and air traffic safety are other important issues.
Amid all the uncertainties, one thing is certain. Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) has a strong lobbying muscle, and it may persuade the authorities in regard to later regulations.