On Dec. 1, 2013, the approximately $27.2 billion online retail giant Amazon announced Prime Air. Prime Air is a drone program that will deliver merchandise to customers in 30 minutes or less if they live within a 10-mile radius of one of Amazon's 30 fulfillment centers in the United States.
CEO Jeff Bezos calls these drones octocopters. He believes that there is no reason that drones cannot be used for delivery. These unmanned drones will be able to drastically speed up orders, and according to Bezos, they will be able to drop off merchandise up to 5 pounds in minutes.
Roughly 86 percent of all Amazon deliveries are up to 5 pounds.
If Prime Air is to be put into place, Amazon still has to account for a few things. Amazon will have to come up with a way for packages to be dropped off without the threat of theft or damage to the octocopters. Additionally, the retail company will have to ensure that the flight of the drones is safe.
Bezos proposed that his drones can be ready within the next four to five years. But as of right now, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not allow the use of drones for commercial purposes. The FAA will have to approve Bezos' Amazon Air before they can take flight. However, this could prove tricky, as airspace regulations will have to be taken into account.
The futuristic idea is being criticized by individuals like Republican Ted Poe, who believes that the plan leaves room for privacy violations.
In February, Poe, along with Republican Zoe Lofgren of California, proposed a bill that would give Americans privacy protection against drones. They argue that drone delivery will leave the door open for Americans to get their expected level of privacy taken away from them.
Drones like Amazon Prime Air are proposed to do more than just deliver packages; these drones may also be able to scan your property to determine what products to recommend to you next.
Since the buzz started to spread about Amazon's Prime Air, many questions are being raised. Many believe that the octocopters will infringe on privacy, and some are worried about the required technology and the longevity of the craft's battery life.
Either way, Prime Air just might be in our near Jetson-like futures. Amazon is not the only company that is playing around with the idea of unmanned drones.
Earlier this year, Dominos Pizza posted a video of what they christened the "DomiCopter" delivering pizzas in the United Kingdom. In Australia, a textbook company by the name of Zookal is already using drone technology for deliveries.
Many critics believe that Prime Air will most likely take flight in other countries before the U.S.
It seems that other countries are worlds ahead of the United States in this aspect. How good will we be at playing catch-up?