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Amazon and UPS Announce Drone-delivery Plans, But Are They For Real?

by Fox Van Allen on December 03, 2013

Amazon delivery by unmanned droneEarlier this week, Amazon announced it was working on a drone-delivery system where unmanned helicopters will fly you your online orders within 30 minutes. Now, website The Verge is reporting that package delivery company UPS is working on its own robotic delivery idea as well.

Both promise lightning-quick same-day delivery later this decade – specifically, Amazon’s idea would support transporting a 5-pound package up to 10 miles within 30 minutes. But are either ideas for real?

Eventually, we’ll all be enjoying same-day delivery one way or another, possibly via 3D printing. It probably won’t be from robotic drones, though. Wired calls the notion of commercial drones “nonsense,” citing safety concerns and liability issues. The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, suggests the idea faces “obvious headwinds” – a very kind way of saying ‘no chance in hell.’

Any plan for drone delivery would require approval from the federal government, something far from guaranteed considering the level of paranoia about drones. If you need any evidence of that, you simply need to look to Deer Trail, Colorado, a town on the verge of issuing drone-hunting licenses to anyone with $25.

Ultimately, for Amazon and UPS, this is a giant delivery stunt. As Quartz puts it, “By making such a public splash, the company is practically guaranteed a place at the table in any future US discussions of commercial drone regulation.” It also allows UPS and Amazon to grab headlines at the start of the holiday shopping season – something both will no doubt result in increased profits this year.


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