Examining the likelihood of Amazon drone delivery

As Paul Sweeting writes, the Bezos surprise revelation about possible drone delivery of packages got the entire tech world talking, which may have been the entire intention.

But whether Bezos intended to simply scare his competitors and wow the masses or if he absolutely serious about the drone delivery service, it’s worth looking at if such as service is even feasible.

My guess is no, at least at the scale Amazon would likely want to do it, in part because of both security and safety concerns. Amazon runs lean and probably doesn’t engage much with tort lawyers – at least the kind of which who like to bring death and dismemberment claims against large companies – but I have a feeling that would change if they were operating a large-scale drone fleet.

But it’s not just the safety risk of civilians. You have to question the cost of such a fleet and one-to-one delivery service of physical goods. Sure, Amazon could charge a significant premium for expedited services and may limit their squadron size, but even then it would be hard to cover the additional cost of the experienced drone operators needed for the service.

Ultimately it could be Bezos’ long-game to develop the delivery network for physical goods for the next century, much like he probably saw he was developing the platform for the Internet services for the future with AWS. If that’s the case, he could very well be willing to wait this thing out over the next decade plus, developing the technology necessary to make it completely safe, and be willing to work with the FAA, one of the slowest moving government bodies known to man.

If so, good luck to him and kudos for playing the long game.

If on the other hand it was just a publicity-grabbing stunt, kudos to him as well since, after all, he just got millions of dollars of free publicity on Cyber Monday.