Amazon Tests Drones, Shoebox-Sized Packages Await Results
Summer 2015 may be the season of self-driving cars from Tesla, trigger-based emails from marketing automation providers and package-delivering drones from Amazon. Two of those products already exist and as of Thursday, the Federal Aviation Administration announced its approval for Amazon to prepare the third for takeoff.
Under an "experimental airworthiness certificate," Amazon can have pilots fly its drones at 400 feet or below, during the day and during good weather. The pilot must always be able to see the drone. The FAA also has requirements for the operator.
"The pilot actually flying the aircraft must have at least a private pilot's certificate and current medical certification," writes the FAA.
On Monday, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service responding to a Target Marketing question says no, drone flying "is not part of our letter carrier training." She says USPS will not try to partner with Amazon on drone deliveries in any other way, either.
It's a fair question, as USPS already partners with Amazon on Sunday package delivery.
However, at least one skeptic of the drone deliveries believes humans will remain in control of the shoebox-sized package deliveries long after this FAA test is a memory.
In his post published Monday on Network World's BuzzBlog, Paul McNamara writes that Amazon's "win" will soon go away.
"If you have a package and an employee close enough to a delivery point that the employee can see it," McNamara asks, "why on earth would you have that employee be operating anything more complicated than a panel truck or have skills any more advanced than a driver's license? Perhaps you might if you are delivering something pricey to a coastal island or mountaintop, but not in any situation that would in any way be described as typical."