Amazon Prime Air is a potential futuristic mode of delivery that is set to be faster than any other service that currently exists. The project is still in development but it has already elicited numerous reactions from most people around the world. The main objective of this organization is to come up with a delivery system that will ensure that it is being ahead of all its competitors in the market. However, this technology looks like one which will take a lot of time before it is unveiled. The reason is related mainly to numerous challenges that still have to be fixed. The cameras attached to the system are one of the issues that have kept the project from starting. Many other problems like privacy concerns, safety, possibility of identity theft, overcrowding of the airspace, and the failure of drones have also stalled the project. However, these issues can still be fixed; and the activity may still take time before it starts.
Amazon Prime Air is a conceptual drone-based delivery system that is currently in development. The system will use aerial vehicles to deliver packages to clients in 30 minutes or less so as to cater for the needs of the growing customer base. It is a great improvement from their fastest shipping time of overnight at the moment. The main objective of Amazon Prime Air is to ensure that the service organization is ahead of all those companies that do home deliveries. If the concept succeeds, then it will greatly change consumerism and revolutionize the e-commerce market. Recently, Amazon has asked for the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) permission to test their drones in their controlled airspace. It would also help it to determine the next course of actions with regard to this delivery method. A huge proportion of the shipping consists of the items that weigh 5 pounds or less. Thus, deliveries made by remote-piloted vehicles will be more desirable. Amazon wants to start a drone delivery system. However, the cameras that are attached keep them from beginning this project. This paper seeks insight on Amazon Prime Air drone delivery systems and numerous challenges that are keeping them from a start.
The concept has not been implemented mainly due to some legal, safety and security risks surrounding it. From 2013, Prime Air has been working on its idea both physically and theoretically. However, despite the fact that this concept may come to life in the next couple of years, people still have the reasons to doubt this futuristic delivery style. Amazon has released a video showing the design for drones and how they will work. The whole idea as shown in the presentation seems to be accurate, easy, and that can be configured practically (Pandit & Poojari, 2014). However, the company still has to address a number of issues for them to assure people of their safety and their technical perfection.
The commercial use of remote-piloted vehicles will impact on the local, state and federal budgets in many ways. The FAA grants a permission to use drones. However, it has no authority to issue licenses for them that are to be used for commercial purposes. Amazon intends to apply these mechanisms for commercial goals. Thus, the FAA is under great pressure to make a quick decision regarding such matters mainly because companies want to implement these plans as fast as they can. The move requires utilization of federal money so as to involve additional manpower in testing drones and instituting the new regulations. The additional staff will also need training on management of the increased air traffic. The FAA is also required to formulate and reform policies surrounding this issue (“The commercial use of drones,” 2015).
The current legislation in Britain does not allow the use of drones within 50 meter of a building or a person. They insist that remote-piloted vehicles must remain within the line of sight which is about 500 meters of an operator. The FAA has released a set of draft regulations for the legalization of commercial drone flights. The British Counterpart of the Federal Aviation Authority believes that the mechanisms will one day operate autonomously once they prove their airworthiness and their ability to avoid obstacles safely. The FAA regulations mean that Amazon will either have to test them in other countries or indoors. The regulations have to be followed to the latter since the FAA and the CAA is not so lenient on those who fail to control their drones. For instance, two people in the UK were successfully prosecuted by the CAA for drone offences in 2014. One of these individuals made a home-made remote-piloted vehicle which flew and landed close to a nuclear facility. The other person’s drone was supposedly out of line of sight when it flew over Alton Towers (Orsini, 2013). It is one of the main problems that Amazon might face concerning the use of these mechanisms.
Another issue is that if these drones will have landing spots, then there will be an increase of air traffic. It will have to be regulated for the potentially high number of airborne deliveries in each neighborhood. The FAA will need to hire 30,000 more people who will be in charge of the operation of the traffic control system for drones. The anticipated increase is probably not in the budget; and it is also rather impractical. The drones will not only have to fight for landing spots with other autonomous flying machines. They may also have to strive to avoid a flight path of these objects. The current system does not have a mechanism for coordinating these movements. The drones may also lose communication to the air traffic control room due to the loss of Internet connectivity. If it happens, the remote-piloted vehicles will collide in the air and pose great threats when they land in these neighborhoods (Hoffman, 2016). Communication failure may also make several drones to end up in one landing spot due to delays in communication.
The sensors that are used in Amazon Prime Air drones cannot be trusted fully due to high risks that human beings and properties may be exposed to in rough weather. It is easy to imagine the problems that could arise when these eight-rotor flying robots come into contact with people, specifically the human flesh. The drones are not like the unmanned military surveillance vehicles used by the US for global overhead surveillance purposes. They fly low enough in the sky and always plunge low when delivering packages. It exposes people living within the neighborhood to serious danger (Hoffman, 2016). The hazard is heightened when numerous drones have to be in the air at the same time to facilitate deliveries on busy days when children are on holiday. For instance, a child in England lost one of his eyes due to the effect of uncovered propeller blades.
The system may also be targeted by thieves whose aim is to intercept the packages before they are delivered to right people. Hackers may also invade it and steal credible information about customers. Antisocial behaviors have been increasing over the Internet. People may consider these actions to be less harmful when they are done against robots rather than human beings. Most people may end up losing their package while it is on transit since the drones can be tracked using GPS devices. Individuals can also fake GPS signals conveniently by convincing unmanned aerial vehicles to track the specific signal instead of the genuine one. Once it is achieved, a thief gains full control of the unmanned aerial vehicle (Hoffman, 2016).
The drones may also invade people’s privacy since they have cameras that record the events around them as they go about their duties. They also take pictures and record videos while flying up in the sky. The information collected is sent back to Amazon and to anyone else that they choose to sell those data to. The FAA’s main concern about these drones has little to do with the fact that they are also regarded as killing machines. The organization is concerned about the privacy issues and whether or not the drones will be used to spy on the US citizens. Eight states have already passed law concerning the collection of surveillance data by commercial drones (Orsini, 2013). These mechanisms are not designed for the purposes of spying. However, people are still concerned about the possibility of using them that way.
The safety issue can be resolved by using frames that protect rotors so as to prevent them from hurting people. The AR Drone Parrot which is one of the earliest quad copters coming with rotors protected all round with a foam frame. It prevents them from running into human beings. According to Amazon, they would need to make 130,000 drone deliveries each day so as to meet the demands of their 40 million prime subscribers. The FAA has 87,000 unmanned flights each day which are managed by 15,000 controllers. It means that their services would greatly surpass the number of unmanned flights (Hoffman, 2016). Thus, it is essential for safety measures to be put in place so as to reduce the risks that they pose to individuals within a given area each time the deliveries are made. The automated UTM can also be used to ensure safety by coordinating traffic both for package delivery, for emergency rescue, and supply purposes. Internet connection can be availed to these drones to enable communication to the server room and to other vehicles (Gross, 2016).
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Google has undertaken a project in recent years aimed at putting air balloons in the stratosphere. It will help to ensure that Wi-Fi is availed in everywhere especially in the underserved areas. For instance, the world can have Facebook drones which could assemble in a disaster area to enhance connectivity with the people of the given area and to other drones tasked with shipping emergency supplies to the community. In the meantime, Amazon could use avoidance software and sensors to help fix the problem brought about by the loss of Internet connectivity once they integrate it into their system. It could assist to avoid incidences of on board collision especially for the larger drones whose impact may be great if they lose link with the ground. This kind of technology is already in the market with DJi’s Phantom 4 which has an ability to identify obstacles and correct its flight paths independently. The drones can use such technologies to serve as backup between Internet disconnections (Hoffman, 2016).
The remote-piloted vehicles can avoid obstacles by using sensors and flying between GPS waypoints. They may pass by telephone wires, light posts, and trees when they are making deliveries. Additionally, the company can come up with the management of an unmanned aerial traffic system management to help them in finding their way for the low-altitude flights in the untested skies. Currently, the drones use GPS signals to maneuver. However, the company can still work towards the NASA’s vision of ensuring that drones connect to a central server. These mechanisms could also communicate their movements with other ones within the same locality. It will help to ensure that packages are delivered effectively and collisions are avoided. It means that the whole system will have to be automated (French, 2016).
Amazon can set up specialized landing areas to help simplify navigation and landing issues. It could be great if the company identified these landing spots within the neighborhoods in which the deliveries were to be made. For instance, the backyard can be a good landing spot, which does not require specialized infrastructure. However, if the deliveries have to be made in every yard in a built resident, then the problem of navigation and landing will still persist. The best option is to set aside a delivery pot or a delivery area which is a centralized site where packages could be delivered to (Hoffman, 2016). People would then go to these places and collect their merchandise rather than gathering them from their doorstep.
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Individuals are worried about privacy breaches and the fact that the drones will have cameras that collect and record information. Amazon will also have to store data about its customers. Therefore, it can conveniently retrieve them each time it has to make a delivery. Thus, the company may need to use sophisticated technologies in its system that will guarantee the protection of sensitive information and packages. For instance, if their drones fall from the sky, Amazon should be able to react quickly. It should use some measures put in place and intercept the package before someone else steals it and interferes with the contents. Amazon will also have to ensure that its trade secrets are protected due to the competition that is bound to arise if this project succeeds. Genuine entities and malicious people may look for the ways of replicating this business model. They may play dirty by stealing vital information about its customers (Hines, 2016). Doing this will enable them to ward off people who may shoot off their drones from the sky as well as the thieves who are after their devices, customers’ private information, and the packages to be delivered.
The use of these vehicles for package delivery is a concept that will revolutionize the methods of doing business. The FAA is reluctant about the idea mainly because of safety issues that still have to be addressed. People are also worried about privacy invasion, theft of personal information and packages, and the fear of what might happen when a remote-piloted vehicle fails when doing deliveries. Most of these challenges can be addressed in a bid to ensure that the whole drone system is running well. The FAA will guarantee that these issues are addressed effectively before they allow commercial drones to be used. If the law is passed allowing the use commercial vehicles in delivering packages, then more companies are expected to embrace this technology. Therefore, the numbers of commercial drones are expected to go up significantly.