Amazon Needs Drones To Send And Retrieve...
Amazon has always dominated via technology and automation. Since its inception in 1994, Amazon has relentlessly deployed technology to increase speed and enhance service. Launching services like Amazon Prime has increased both the physical efficiency of transporting goods (through expedited two-day shipping), as well as the digital accessibility to large online libraries (through Amazon Music and Prime Movies). The company has always pushed technology, even building the world’s most advanced Public Cloud (AWS) to push computing speed and convenience for all. Now legacy last mile delivery services are in Amazon’s sights.
In recent years, Amazon has shown interest in the use of drone technology for short distance package transportation. If approved and implemented, this would, in addition to reducing transit time, facilitate a bi-directional highway to try, buy, share, and recycle products.
With the standard shipping time for prime users at two days, and for non-prime users about a week or more, the inconvenience of waiting and the annoyance of returns is one of the main reasons people choose not to shop online. Further, it’s a very unidirectional convenience when packages arrive with relative ease; but some additional annoyance and expense for returns, sharing, or recycling of used products (think old light bulbs or toner cartridges).
With automated sort and pick capabilities at all Amazon warehouses and the potential for a fully automated last mile delivery and retrieval system via drones, Amazon will not only be the world’s most advanced data repository and sharing service (AWS) but also the world’s most advanced repository and sharing service of physical goods!
In some ways the Fulfillment by Amazon Service, that stores, picks, packs, and ships your products and accepts and sorts returns in an infinitely scalable fashion will be made complete via the bi-directional nature of drone delivery and retrieval; much the same as data is sent and retrieved from customers around the world via Amazon’s AWS Public Cloud.
In late 2015, Amazon issued its first patent for a drone centered delivery and storage warehouse. The patents (see figures two and three) demonstrate Amazon’s preemptive desire to be the first to implement such a system at scale. Though an exact time table has not been laid out, Amazon is expected to release more concrete plans within the next few years.
This is just the beginning, and Amazon is just the first. Automation will surely continue to transform the nature of business and our physical environment with physical products ushered as easily as data.