Amazon's Delivery By Drone Already Raising Concerns

By Stephanie Parkinson - 21Alive

December 2, 2013 Updated Dec 2, 2013 at 6:40 PM EDT

UNITED STATES (21Alive) - Delivery by drone may soon be a reality. Amazon is testing this revolutionary concept, but along with new ideas come new concerns.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says more than 80 percent of their orders weigh less than five pounds. That makes flying by drone easy for these small items.

Bezos says Amazon plans to package the item at one of its warehouses, send it down a conveyer belt, have it picked up by the drone and sent to its destination. The autonomous drone would be programmed with the GPS coordinates of the drop off location so it would know exactly where to go.

This new concept is being called Amazon Prime Air.

John Kaufeld is the online marketing specialist at IPFW. He admits this is exciting to think about, but he says there are several safety concerns that need to be addressed before this idea can take flight.

This idea also needs approval from the federal government to move forward.

"The FAA is going to be looking at safety. When you're looking at things like broadcast towers, the FAA makes sure that broadcast towers are certain heights and certain positions so that airplanes don't run into them. Likewise, they're going to be looking at the safety issues around drones flying around congested airspace," said Kaufeld.

Kaufeld says he thinks it's possible the FAA will designate air space specifically for drones.

Another concern, as this idea develops, is how it will impact the people who currently delivery these items.

"Where will people fit in? Because, in theory, you can have a completely automated warehouse that flies completely automated drones. So now you need one person cruising around a million square foot warehouse to just make sure the drones are doing what they're doing," said Kaufeld.

According to Amazon, the FAA anticipates it will have regulations in place by 2015 for commercial use of drones. But Bezos says he thinks Amazon won't be ready to launch Amazon Prime Air until 2017.




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