A new video from Amazon took the Internet by storm this weekend and I’ll assume most of you have probably already seen it by now. The video (embedded above) depicts the newest innovation that the online retail giant’s R&D team has had their sights on. The concept is simple, offer an new delivery method that allows Amazon customers the ability to receive physical products within 30 minutes after their order is placed by way of an unmanned delivery drone.
I’ve seen mixed opinions about the idea with some people thinking it’s awesome and some finding it downright creepy. Personally, I think there is a few reasons why we may never actually see this technology implemented in a real world situation.
Cost Of Implementation
While Amazon is undoubtably the largest retailer in existence, this type of system would still be a heavy burden for the company to take on financially without much reward in return. Since their prices are so low, they make little to no profits on most physical items (they even lose money on their tablets) thus implementing an expensive delivery system such as this will cut profits further or will cause the expenses to be passed to the consumer instead. Since the service is branded as “Prime” it is reasonable to assume the pricing will be cheap (2-day shipping is free for Prime members and 1 day shipping is only $3.99), but it is far too early to tell exactly how much the extra delivery fee would cost consumers.
Legally speaking this type of technology does not meet the FAA guidelines and it will likely take several years to pass the FAA rules and regulations if it is even able to get over that hurdle at all. Something about an unmanned aircraft flying through residential neighborhoods dropping off packages seems like it could cause some serious problems.
There are tons of risks associated with this type of service and they don’t all have to do with safety. While the drone could malfunction and accidentally harm someone, there are a lot of financial risks that Amazon would take on by implementing this type of delivery method. For example, if the Amazon Prim Air drone were to malfunction and fail then the cost of the drone itself (I’d estimate this to be at least couple thousand dollars) could be at risk if it were to become lost or stolen. Amazon also takes on responsibility of the package contents that could become lost or stolen along with it. depending on the type of physical item purchased this could easily top $500+ in lost revenue.
Location & Size Limitations
The biggest issue with Amazon Prime Air concept is that it will only be available in a few select cities whom are located within 10 miles of an Amazon warehouse. These drones are not made to fly long distances and can only carry small to medium-sized packages so it seems like an awful lot of trouble for Amazon to go through when the end result only affects a small part of their customer-base.
Loss Of Jobs
Since the economy has been in the dumps as of lately and jobs are scarce, this move could also have a negative effect on the Amazon workforce. It has the potential to replace human workers with machines (or in this case drones) which could cause Amazon to cut their workforce (not likely, but possible) which would of course upset their employees as well as consumers who do not agree with their decision.
While this technology is a step in the right direction, I’d bet Amazon finds one or more of the above reasons enough to cancel the initiative. Just releasing the video alone was beneficial for Amazon as it created buzz to help boost sales and overall awareness especially since they chose to release it the day before Cyber Monday, the biggest online retail event of the year. Whether or not the technology makes its way Amazon’s website within the next couple years is up in the air and I could be completely wrong in my assumptions. All I know is seeing this concept video makes me very excited to see what the future of technology has in store!