You likely saw the announcement last December about Amazon wanting to deploy drones to deliver packages. While this would likely be a premium delivery option, dubbed “Prime Air,” this service would get customers their products in just 30 minutes after clicking the “buy” button. Here is a whole new spin to leveraging a “cloud-based” technology from a mobile app! According to Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, his “optimistic” estimate is that Prime Air will be available to customers within 4 to 5 years.
For those of you who haven’t yet seen this video, it is worth spending a minute to watch. It shows how drones could be used to deliver packages from an Amazon warehouse to the end user:
Just in case you were thinking that this is still science fiction … I wouldn’t be too quick to bet against Bezos. According to a recent article from last week, Amazon purchased the Washington Post, they have retained the powerful lobbying firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and the continue to poach influential new hires in the D.C. area, most recently Cisco aide Steve Hartell. Steve will direct Amazon’s congressional relations – specifically with regards to FAA policy. Clearly, this is a company that is ready to invest the money necessary to make their vision come true.
According to issue #5 – 2014 of Dassault Systèmes’ Compass Magazine, in the article Disruptive Drones, “The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 was the first bill that included language requiring the FAA to integrate unmanned aircraft with manned aircraft into the national airspace system,” said Ben Gielow, General Council and Senior Government Relations Manager for the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems international (AUVSI) in Arlington, Virginia.
In 2013, AUVSI projected that the expansion of commercial drone technology could create more than 100,000 US jobs by 2025, with an overall nationwide economic impact of more than $82B in the first decade of operation. These are pretty big numbers, so it would appear there might be a few possible uses for this technology to drive such a significant economic impact.
Until the FAA issues guidelines, however, drone enthusiasts will have to keep their enthusiasm in check. Today, the commercial use of drones without proper authorization is illegal.
The FAA recently halted a Minnesota brewery from testing a drone to deliver beer to ice fisherman. (What a great idea!) Inspired by Amazon’s drone project, Lakemaid Beer posted an online video showing a 12-pack of beer taking flight under a six-propeller drone. Lakemaid’s President, Jack Supple, said he doesn’t plan to give up hope on his brewery’s idea, and plans to be ready when the FAA gives the approval.
This video is also worth the minute to watch it – under this scenario I might just be tempted to try ice fishing myself!
So, if there is forecast to be a significant economic upside from commercializing this technology, where might that lift come from? I’ll continue this discussion in my next post.
Anyone for ice fishing?
Gordon can be found on Google+ .