ENTREPRENEURSHIP / DEC. 04, 2013
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Jeff Bezos: Are Drones the One thing He Can’t Do?

Following from my previous article ‘Is There Anything Jeff Bezos Doesn’t Do?’ it seems we have finally found something that the creative genius cannot possibly (or logically) make work – the new flying drone service for Amazon. While it might not be quite as grand as trying to create his own rival to NASA, his latest project is still quite ambitious. In fact, it defies logic. His plans to create a flying drone delivery service to deliver small parcels to customers may turn out to be that one-step too far for the innovative billionaire.

One Step Closer to Lightsabers

Yes it’s true, Amazon - the world’s largest online retailer which Jeff Bezos started in his garage in 1994 - is looking to try and replace most of its delivery personnel with flying drones. By using his so-called Octoconpter drones, he is aiming to deliver packages within 30 minutes, which would effectively ‘rewrite the rules of online retail.’ It is easy to see the reasoning behind this as last year Amazon spent roughly $2.9 billion on shipping alone and invests heavily in order fulfilment. There is no denying that the faster a customer gets the package, the happier they are going to be.

The Drones, which look like something out of a Star Wars movie, have a range of roughly 10 miles and can carry a pay load of up to 5 pounds. Apparently, roughly 86% of Amazon’s orders weigh under 4 pounds so the weight should not be an issue. The small range of the vehicles could cause headaches as it is obviously limited to urban areas. The drones, guided by GPS coordinates will place the package on your front doorstep or lawn and then fly back to its base station. Undeniably, the concept is pretty inviting even if you don’t like the idea of your purchases being flown by drones; the prospect of receiving your order within 30 minutes is enough to get most people on board.

Logistical and Legal Problems

Obviously, they would never be able to replace their drivers completely due to larger packages in remote areas and also problems with GPS coordinates in some places.

Sadly the project faces some legal issues. While the U.S. allows unmanned drones for personal use, they are illegal for commercial use. This may be a hangover from the tragic 9 / 11 attacks; however, people probably would not be thrilled to have their skies filled with unmanned drones.

An Octocopter is a heavy machine with eight spinning blades, it has the potential to kill someone if it falls out of the sky. Some people will probably shoot them down for fun or to get free booty, it’s like being a pirate but with much less risk of being caught. I mean if you fire a slingshot hard enough you could probably knock one down. Not to mention the danger of people hacking into the octocopters wireless connection to take control of them.

Will Jeff Bezos’ dream of delivery by flying drones be a success, who can say? Most of his other dreams are well under way so judging by his track record it wouldn’t be surprising if he found a way to eliminate delivery personnel altogether! The project is certainly feasible, as the technology has evolved faster than the legislation. I know it’s a terrible pun but it may just be a ‘pie in the sky dream’. I’m sorry I couldn’t resist.

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