March 21, 2023

These days, consumers expect deliveries in record time, but Amazon is about to start rolling out what is potentially the fastest and most effective delivery system of all time. The Federal Aviation Administration approved Amazon’s new drone delivery program in early September, allowing Jeff Bezos’ industry giant to move forward with this technology.

Amazon has been developing its drone system, coined PrimeAir, for years, making its first autonomous delivery on Dec. 16, 2016. Amazon claims that packages eligible for PrimeAir could be delivered in as little as 30 minutes or less. Now, with FAA approval, Amazon can begin to make commercial deliveries outside of testing circumstances.

Currently, Amazon’s drones have a 15-mile range and can support packages that weigh up to 5 pounds. They are not the only company, however, who may benefit from continuing FAA support. UPS is developing its Flight Forward “drone airline.”

According to a UPS press release, Flight Forward was the first to receive FAA approval with the Part 135 Standard certification, which removes scope and size limitations. Flight Forward currently serves healthcare professionals and hospitals around the nation transport medical samples.

Timmy Tamashiro, sophomore radiological science major, said drone deliveries could be more efficient and environmentally friendly, but also said he was skeptical about the impact it would have on human jobs.

“The drone won’t give money back into their community,” Tamashiro said. “They’ll take the jobs of the people who actually work. The drones won’t even get paid. …. Nothing can beat human interaction, and I (would) rather have a person deliver my package then some piece of plastic dropping off my stuff and flying away.”

Many people share Tamashiro’s fear, but Adele Harrison, professor of finance, said that she believes the free market economy can handle the potential economic implications of PrimeAir.

“I would like to hope that it is the job of the entrepreneur — that there is someone out there that (will) say: ‘this particular aspect is going away, but I could utilize people (in a different) way,” said Harrison. “I would like to think that we can handle it without some government-mandated or government-run situation.”

For some, PrimeAir is too fast a jump in technology. Katie O’Daniel, sophomore behavioral sciences major, said she would be frightened by drone delivery.

“It makes me feel like I am in a futuristic movie where the drones turn against (us),” O’Daniel said.

Amazon has said that drone safety is important. These drones will be able to react to the environment around them, avoiding obstacles in their path. Amazon also pledges to work with the FAA to create an air traffic management system that is safe for the public.

Whether or not America is ready, PrimeAir is here to stay. Amazon has not provided a roll-out date but says customers should expect drone
deliveries very soon.

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