Amazon made a splash last year when it announced plans to integrate drones into its stable of delivery options for its ever-growing number of customers. Now another delivery company has announced plans to develop and integrate drone tech into its systems. UPS is officially entering the automated age.
The Associated Press reports that UPS has partnered with CyPhy Works to implement and test a workable delivery drone to work alongside its popular Big Brown Trucks. Proponents say this is a positive — and inevitable — step forward.
But not everyone is happy. The use of drones in commercial deliveries remains a controversial topic. Some privacy advocates say it’s one more step closer to losing this vital aspect of American life. And some homeowners are not mincing words or delaying action, shooting down any drones that come near their property.
Other critics say using drones removes the human aspect of customer service and will put too many people out of jobs.
Proponents are quick to argue that drones will not take the place of all delivery — at least not yet. The tech is too new, too untested to be unilaterally reliable. But some deliveries along predetermined routes could make deliveries faster and cheaper, for both the delivery service and the customer.
Even if UPS and Amazon, and other companies interested in using drones, can make some headway in the war of the mind gaining acceptance from consumers and those who are naturally wary of new — and potentially invasive — tech. There remains yet another hurdle. The FAA.
Federal Aviation Administration officials have not made too many laws relative to drones, and this has both advocates and detractors uneasy. What, exactly, is legal … and where … and how. There are a lot of unanswered questions. Would a drone flying over someone’s property give that person the right to destroy it on suspicion of intrusive behavior, or would that constitute unlawful destruction of private property? And what of the person whose package was not delivered?
Then there are other safety concerns. What if someone was injured by the drone? What’s the level or nature of accountability there? These and other questions fall under the purview of the FAA, and they are not making it any easier on drone-curious businesses.
Ronn Torossian is a PR maverick and the CEO of 5W PR in NYC.