News Roundup: Amazon Drones Make Debate Take Off
While we were recovering from Thanksgiving feasting (ie. stuck in standing traffic), Jeff Bezos was unveiling Amazon's latest innovation on 60 Minutes-the Amazon Drone, or octocopter. Then, in short order, the internet exploded with stories on the subject, proclaiming Bezos' latest announcement as the biggest news in ecommerce or the biggest laughingstock.
Some reporters and pundits questioned whether Amazon's latest shipping experiment was true innovation or just a PR stunt that coincided with Cyber Monday, while others raised some real obstacles to the Amazon Drone from the highly regulated US airspace to the technology simply not being ready. The type of sensors drones would need to avoid power lines and other obstacles has yet to be invented. And, according to Brendan Schulman, the lawyer defending the first person to be sued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for using drones commercially, there is still a great deal of legal issues to be resolved, which may hinder Bezos' anticipated drone launch in 2015.
The admirers of the scheme, including Bill Gates, admit that this is where ecommerce and delivery is headed. Although there are still many hurdles to launch the program in the US (and the question of whether it is even a desired service), there is no denying that regions lacking infrastructure and in need of supplies could use drone delivery. In fact, the US military already uses drones to deliver cargo throughout Afghanistan.
Regardless of how the commercial drone comes into being, there is one certainty out of yesterday's wellspring of news. Drone delivery is coming, and Amazon isn't alone in heralding its arrival.
Ellen Harvey is a freelance writer and editor who covers the latest technologies and strategies reshaping the publishing landscape. She previously served as the Senior Editor at Publishing Executive and Book Business.