Two years ago, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced that his company would soon deliver packages using drones. The idea sounds like it came straight from the pages of sci-fi novel but in reality, it might not be long until we see the launch of the service. Drone deliveries are slowly becoming a reality thanks to successful test projects by some of the biggest international firms on the planet.
Bezos' drone delivery idea sparked a lot of debate, with some saying that the CEO's statement was just a publicity stunt in order to get the public’s attention in time for the holiday season. After all, most governments strictly prohibit flying drones in highly populated areas.
However, despite the restrictions, tech companies are seeing drone deliveries as the next big thing in terms of door-to-door logistics. As previously stated in an APICS article titled, ‘Drones, Hyperloops, and Automated Trucks Carve Their Distribution Niches,’ new distribution channels always have the potential to reshape the transportation and logistics industry with new capabilities and efficient methods. Today, that new distribution channel comes in the form of drones.
So what makes these companies think that drone deliveries are a good idea?
Amazon wants to deliver goods in under 30 minutes
Should Amazon get its way, the company will be able to deliver not only books and mobile phones to homes but also emergency medicine to those who need it. The latter is perhaps one of the most important forms of drone deliveries, which is why Amazon is seriously pushing for its approval.
Bezos said in an interview that the proposed deliveries wouldn’t happen just yet considering the restrictions in the United States. Although, he predicts that the delivery option may be available in 4 or 5 years' time.
“The hardest challenge in making this happen is going to be demonstrating this to the standards of the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) that this is a safe thing to do,” said Bezos.
Experts suggest that if drones are rigged with GPS tracking systems, the FAA would be more lenient with companies flying drones over highly-populated places. In addition, an ELD or an Electronic Logging Device may also help, which closely monitors and logs the activities of courier services. Understanding the impact of GPS helps keep America moving forward by using telematics within commercial and government-class fleets.
In addition to safety concerns, Amazon would also have to deal with the noise that drones make while flying, as well as the threat of theft that comes with the potential operations.
Google's Project Wing
Just like Amazon, Google has been working on a delivery system that uses drones. But unlike Amazon, Google's plans are much bolder. According to the search engine company, they want to make deliveries across a city in less than two minutes.
Google calls this new endeavor Project Wing and they have been working on it for two years now but there are no visible results just yet.
During the initial phases of Project Wing, Google created an unusual design called Tail Sitter, which is a synthesis of a plane and helicopter that takes off vertically, and then rotates to a horizontal position for hovering. When delivering, it flies and puts packages down on the ground using an electronic tether that detects whether or not the package has already hit the floor. Once it reaches the floor, the tether detaches from the package, and is pulled back up by the Tail Sitter.
Currently, there are a lot of scientists working on the project, creating everything from new vehicle designs to the user interface for ordering products and getting them delivered via drones. Google hasn't spoken yet about the possibility of resistance from the government itself but it seems that Project Wing's development is in full swing.
Government restrictions are the major obstacles that both Amazon and Google will need to face in order to make drone deliveries a reality. But with some minor tweaking and time on their side, tech industry experts are confident that drone deliveries are within arm's reach.