6 Problems With Amazon’s Drone Delivery (Why It Doesn’t Fly)

The best part about new technology is that it is designed to make our lives a little bit easier.

Regarding deliveries, Amazon is starting to pave the way with the launch of its new drone delivery system.

However, the initial launch of this new program was met with a whole bunch of problems forcing Amazon to re-design how their drones will work.

So, while we wait for the official re-launch, here are some of the most common problems people were having with Amazon’s drone delivery and some ways to resolve these issues:

1. Air Space Regulations

The number one problem with drones right now is that if it travels too high in the sky, they can start to violate common air space regulations.

For a drone to safely deliver a package, it has to stay at an elevation of 400 feet in the air. If it travels any higher than 500 feet, the drone will enter commercial airspace monitored and controlled by certain air traffic controllers.

Air traffic controllers do not have the authority over drones and cannot control their flight patterns which can put people at risk in the case of an air collision.

So, to safely fly a drone, Amazon must ensure that their delivery drones won’t leave the navigable airspace.

During the launch of Amazon Drone Delivery, they specifically designed these drones to never exceed 400 feet in the air, which helps to reduce the risk of danger.

2. Amazon’s Drones Are Too Heavy To Fly

While Amazon did prepare for their drones to carry heavier objects, up to 15 lbs, they forgot about one important feature.

This was the battery life of the drones.

Amazon learned that the heavier the delivery, the more strain was put on the drone to fly longer distances.

So, when the battery drained quicker than expected, the drone would ground itself, and it wouldn’t always land where it intended to.

Luckily, Amazon became aware of this problem fairly early on in the launch of the delivery program, which forced them to re-think the weight load that drones can carry.

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3. Underestimating How Long a Delivery Would Take

When the program first launched, the biggest perk was that people were promised delivery within 30 minutes of the order.

However, people in less-populated areas would not get the same guarantee.

Fairly soon after Amazon announced this 30-minute window, they learned that it actually wasn’t as easy to execute as they thought.

When you consider all of the obstacles a drone needs to clear to make a delivery, you can understand why this 30-minute promise was way too high of a reach for Amazon.

From having a clear airspace to having a strong enough drone battery to make the trip, Amazon realized that this window was not doable, which forced them to walk back on some of their promises.

4. You Can’t Control Nature

Any wind over 30 MPH will be strong enough to ground a drone.

More than that, if you can throw the drone off course, you can’t be sure the delivery will be made.

Other weather conditions that can ground a drone are heavy snow and ice. Much like an airplane, a drone relies on propellers to move it around.

When ice and snow are too heavy or cold, they can freeze this propulsion system causing the drone to no longer be able to fly.

A more laughable problem that drones face when up against nature is the random attack from an animal.

It may surprise you to learn that there have been dozens of cases of animals intercepting drones which stops them from safely making a delivery.

So, whether the wind is knocking around or there is an overzealous hawk, drones are no match for mother nature.

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5. Amazon Can’t Always Guarantee a Safe Delivery

While drones can fly up to 400 feet in the air, the drop height is only 10 feet.

Once the drone hits 10 feet, it will safely release the package to drop on your doorstep. However, Amazon did not plan for everything.

More specifically, in order to drop the package, the way has to be clear.

One thing that was a major oversight was if people had screened-in porches or even an awning over the front door. So, when the drone dropped the package, some people found it would get stuck on their roof or awning.

In order to ensure a safe drop-off, Amazon started to invest in a parachute-like device attached to the package. The hope was that the delivery would slowly descend. But once again, Amazon forgot about one important detail – the wind.

With even the slightest gust of wind, the parachute can pick up speed and completely change the course direction leaving the package in an unknown location.

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6. Deliveries Still Need the Assistance of a Human

Along with people trained to fly the drones, a group of Amazon employees are specially trained to analyze and observe the drones.

These workers are the last line of defense if something goes wrong.

When Amazon first launched its drone delivery system in the UK, people were horrified to learn that one of the workers assigned to observing the footage from the drones was drinking on the job, which was a huge liability for the multi-billion dollar corporation.

This was because the main job of this work was to execute drone drops by pressing a button once the way was clear to make a delivery.

Instead of carefully observing the surroundings and ensuring there were no obstacles, Amazon learned that these workers were just pressing the drop button without first learning a path.

This led to many customers not getting their deliveries or, even worse, having their orders dropped off under dangerous circumstances.

Sources:

Issues With Drone Delivery 

What Happened To Amazon’s Drone Delivery Service? 

5 Challenges The Drone Delivery System Has To Overcome

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