It’s a Bird – It’s a Plane – It’s an Amazon Drone?

The world moves fast. Telephones, emails, video-calls; by the time we wake up in the west a days worth of innovation and labour have already finished in Asia.

Papers can be emailed in, employees can never really escape the office, and the world doesn’t rest when the sun goes down.

Fast.

Human beings are obsessed with speed. I’m not just talking Usain Bolt and his 9.58 second dash, or our constant desire for quick internet (why won’t this cat video load faster?)

This fascination saturates all aspects of our lives. Whether it’s work, leisure, or even innovation – we want it done faster and easier.

It should come as no surprise that this effects mail and package delivery as well.

DELIVERY TIME IN CANADA

Last year Canada Post announced it was stopping door to door delivery and cutting about 8000 jobs. The first communities to lose this feature are:

  • Fort McMurray
  • Winnipeg
  • Oakville
  • Ottawa
  • Montreal suburbs of Rosemere, Lorraine and Bois-des-Filion
  • Halifax

They claimed they were doing this as a response to Canada’s massive shift from mail to digital alternatives. Email is much faster than door to door delivery after all.

Let’s break it down.

Parcels and letters being delivered within Canada can take anywhere from next day, to a week and a half to reach their desired target.

Canada delivery

To the U.S.A is a little different. Depending on what you pay, shipments can take anywhere from the next day to about a week.

USA delivery

 

International shipping can take weeks! In the most extreme cases it can take nearly two months for a package to be delivered from Canada.

International

The point is this. For a world that is obsessed with speed, waiting even three days can be too long to get something in the mail.

WHAT TO DO?

amazon

Amazon is leading the pack in trying to get its packages to its customers faster. What they are attempting… well, it can be considered in both a negative and a positive light.

Their ideas certainly sound like they come straight out of a science fiction book.

AMAZON EMPLOYS ROBOTS

Amazon has added a Robotic touch to their staff. They paid $775 million to buy out Kiva Systems in March 2012.

Kiva

That’s right. Kiva systems make robot workers for warehouses. Now Amazon has an army of them.

Here’s how they work.

These little orange robots skim along the floor of a warehouse to organize packages. They do this by attaching to the bottom of inventory shelves that are stacked several feet into the air above them.

When they move they can safely take these shelves with them.

Human Amazon warehouse workers don’t have walk around their warehouse anymore. Thanks to the Kiva robots, the shelves come to them.

Want to see one of these robots in action? Check out this video done by WIRED magazine.

The robots can also maintain inventory. They put more popular shelves near the front of the warehouse to save searching and transport time.

Movement is determined by cameras and bar codes, and one human overlord that manages all of it from the safety of a computer screen.

Amazon bought out Kiva Systems in an effort to speed up their delivery times. Robots don’t suffer from human error, so this should speed up the time from when the order is received to when it is shipped.

According to Amazon, Kiva Robots increase deliveries by 2- 4 per hour.

The most interesting factor? Amazon is NOT licensing it. No other company, whether they had Kiva robots before this purchase or not, can buy Kiva robots in the future.

AMAZON TAKES TO THE SKIES

If Amazon gets its way, there will soon be aerial drones delivering your packages within a half hour after you place your order.

Amazons-Prime-Air-drone

This isn’t as far fetched as it might seem. Delivery drones are already a reality in the military. The Marine Corps have been using two remote-controlled K-MAX helicopters to deliver supplies in Afghanistan. It was so successful that the military extended their deployment indefinitely in 2011.

Of course, military deployment is a long way away from commercial use. Amazon has already appealed to The Federal Aviation Administration (FFA) to put the regulations in place for unmanned aerial vehicles.

Amazon hopes these regulations will be in place sometime in 2015. They claim they will be ready to launch Amazon Prime at the same time.

The goal of this new delivery system is to get packages into customers’ hands in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles – Amazon

Check out the drones below.

RISK

One of the main concerns surrounding packages being delivered by drones is damage, both to people and objects.

Brendan Schulman, a lawyer at the firm Kramer Levin Naftalis & Franke in New York says that there will need to be legal protection for the drones. If someone breaks or steals one, there have to be legal repercussions.

There are currently laws in place to protect people who are hit with flying objects such as golf balls, but there will probably need to be more debate about how that applies to drones.

For the next year at least, your packages will have to be delivered the old fashioned slow way; snail mail.

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