Don’t Get Too Excited About Drone Delivery

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com made a big splash last week when he talked about the possibility of arial drones delivering packages from Amazon.com. Apparently, Amazon does have some prototypes they are playing with as does UPS and FedEx. I wouldn’t get too excited, however, because as sexy and cool as it sounds, widespread drone package delivery is fraught with problems. Can you even imagine the sky traffic with three or more companies operating drones throughout the day? We would need a whole new air traffic control system just for the drones. Then there is the problem of a mechanical or software error that could cause a drone to drop out of the sky or collide with another drone. One of the very first things to happen, of course, would be people taking pot shots at drones with their favorite rifle. No doubt Amazon would love to make it work. Imagine the savings in trucks, gas, and drivers. Bezos did say there are nowhere near making delivery drones a reality and that they are at least five years away from any implementation. Who knows, in five years, maybe you can solve some of these problems.

Now where drone package delivery would really work and could be revolutionary is in limited use for medical and rescue situations. Imagine a town or city under a great flood or other natural disaster. Sometimes it can be impossible to get supplies into certain areas as the roads have been rendered unusable. A drone could deliver needed water, food and medical supplies very efficiently. A drone could possible deliver organs among hospitals for transplant use.

I do think we will see some of these specialty drone delivery use scenarios in the future, but I still wouldn’t bet on getting your next Amazon purchase that way.