After announcing its plans to stop delivering on Saturday, the United States Postal Services (USPS) has backed off on that plan and now faces layoffs and delivery service rate hikes. Meanwhile, Amazon continues to offer free delivery for orders $25 or more and for Amazon Prime members. Plus, they are planning to offer delivery within one hour starting in 2015.
One hour? How will they do that when the USPS doesn’t offer that service?
Easy. They’ll just go around the USPS and provide their own delivery using air drones.
Of course, Amazon Prime Air is subject to approval by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been very controversial due to their use by the Obama Administration for surveillance and combat. But Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has found an innovative use for UAVs, also called drones, for peaceful purposes.
From the Amazon Prime Air page on Amazon’s website:
Q: Is this science fiction or is this real?
A: It looks like science fiction, but it’s real…. One day, Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today.
If the FAA gets its rules in place by 2015, Amazon customers could receive products on delivery as early as 30 minutes from time of purchase. I like that!
Where I live – in Adams County, Pennsylvania – we have low expectations of the postal service. I love to receive boxes from Amazon, however. And since Amazon has a fulfillment center just half an hour’s drive from my home in the most rural county in Pennsylvania (the fulfillment center is in Carlisle), I may soon be able to buy a book after breakfast and start reading it before lunch.
The U.S. Postal Service is in financial trouble. They’ve been losing money for years. Since Congress won’t let them manage their own finances, they won’t be able to compete with Amazon or other delivery services (and I predict that other companies will implement a similar program to Amazon Prime Air).
Seeing as how the USPS is having difficulty managing its current operations, I don’t see how they will be able to implement a competitive delivery service. It is likely that Amazon will begin to offer speedy delivery for other retailers, and possibly even members of the public, once it gets its own UAV operations off the ground.
Imagine being able to order a drone dispatched to your home for delivering a package to a customer on the other side of the country. You could have the drone on your doorstep within 30 minutes, attach your package and send it off for delivery. Amazon will handle the logistics from there, taking your package from New York to Los Angeles by the end of the day. Amazon will likely roll this service out first to its third party sellers then after successful implementation roll it out to the general public.
Under the above scenario, the USPS will not be able to compete. When other UAV delivery services get into the field, providing a competitive service comparable to Amazon’s on an ad hoc basis, the USPS will still be losing money and struggling to stay alive. Fewer people will use its service as the postal rates rise and delivery times weaken.
This will likely lead to mass drone delivery where some innovative company will develop drones that can carry multiple packages from a central hub on one side of the country to a central hub on the other side within a couple of hours.
The USPS could be dead within 10-15 years.
Just like many businesses today have postal meters, I can envision a future when they may have delivery drones. They program an address into the drone and give it a tracking number from one of several delivery services (one of which could be Amazon). From a single website, they can track the drone in real time from point of departure to its destination, ensuring safe delivery.
Welcome to the future.
At this point, this is simply my imagination at work, but as early as 2015, the UAV delivery part of that could be a reality. Drone technology has the potential to revolutionize how we do business on a global scale. Couple this technological innovation with other up-and-coming technologies and there are some powerful possibilities.
For instance, an author in Houston Texas writes a book and publishes that book in digital format, then she sets up a website to take orders. For customers who want a print copy of the book, she can make it available as POD (print on demand). A reader in Wisconsin orders the print copy of the book. The author uses an Espresso Book Machine to print a copy of the book and orders the Amazon drone delivery service. By the time the UAV arrives on her doorstep to pick up the order, she has printed her book, boxes it, and packaged it. The book arrives in the customer’s hand within 2-3 hours.
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