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."
Actually, the company tested "Amazon Prime Air" in late 2013, before the FAA shut it down in June 2014. The FAA called delivering packages using drones illegal, but Amazon took that to mean hobbyists and model aircraft pilots.
On Monday afternoon, the Amazon Prime Air page is still active on the e-commerce marketer's site, where Amazon also promises 30-minute-or-less delivery via the unmanned drones that don't have visible pilots in the product video.
"Putting Prime Air into service will take some time, but we will deploy when we have the regulatory support needed to realize our vision," the page reads.
Do marketers plan to use Amazon Prime Air if it becomes a reality?
Please respond in the comments section below.