The Delivery Nightmare Begins

The NMA Foundation presents The Car of the Future weekly feature:

This spring, San Francisco officials were complaining that traffic was becoming even more unbearable than usual due to all the ridesharing and delivery trucks clogging the streets.

This is indeed just the tip of the iceberg!

As more and more people order everything (including toothpaste) online, the more motorists, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians will compete with delivery vehicles on every corner and sidewalk.

Or will we?

Amazon, the largest e-commerce company in the world, has been working on flying drones to deliver packages. They will soon have automated warehouses/fulfillment center, just bought the grocery store chain Whole Foods and are now working out details of how to move everything you can buy on Amazon to your front door same day delivery.  The company has already been testing flying drones in Cambridge, England. They have also patented some of their technology such as a hive tower system warehouse, streetlight recharging stations and airship distribution centers.

Most fulfillment centers generally are one story sprawling structures on the edges of towns but a hive tower would be located in a dense population center and would allow for your package to be flown directly to you from the tower. This would indeed cause some headaches for urban planners and anyone who lives in an apartment.  Will the drone knock on your window or drop the package off on the roof? Or would the flying drone be allowed to zip through the building’s front door and deliver at your mailbox or doorman?

Amazon has also invested heavily in not only warehouse autonomous vehicles but also autonomous delivery trucks that do not have human driver sleep regulations and can travel 24/7 to and from fulfillment centers. This would also allow the consumer to receive their toothpaste within minutes instead of the next day or longer. Of course, the consumer would have to pay for an Amazon Prime yearly subscription which allows free delivery on nearly every item.

Currently, flying drones are required to fly below 400 feet, not less than five miles from an airport, with no fly zones over power plants and helipads. New York City is pretty much a no fly zone because of all of these regulations.

The Federal Aviation Administration estimates that at least 442,000 commercial drones will be in the skies by 2021. Industry representatives told a congressional subcommittee in May that they are tied down by regulations that require a drone to always be in the line of sight of the controller. Other stumbling blocks to total drone domination includes the usual patchwork of state and local regulations involving drones.

In other delivery drone news…

Earlier this month, Ohio became the fifth state that will now allow delivery robot drones on the ground. This follows Florida, Idaho, Virginia and Wisconsin with more states to follow.  The robot drones deliver food and generally use sidewalks and pedestrian crosswalks to travel.  Weighing less than 90 pounds, the robot delivery drones look like drink coolers on wheels. They generally don’t travel far at a top speed of 10 mph. In May, San Francisco officials were considering banning sidewalk robot delivery drones so that pedestrians are safe.

The delivery nightmare has just begun…of course we might be getting our packages a bit quicker but will there be any room left on the road for cars to travel or on the sidewalk for pedestrians to move?

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The NMA Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting your interests as a motorist and citizen through the multi-faceted approach of research, education, and litigation.  The Foundation is able to offer this assistance through tax-deductible contributions. 

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If you are interested in learning more about the Car of the Future check out the following NMA resources:

NMA Driving News Feed—Over 50 Car of the Future stories are placed each month in the NMA Driving News—the go-to source for all your driving news information from around the country.

NMA’s Flipboard Magazine called Car of the Future—Over 50 stories are placed each month in this magazine devoted to the Car of the Future.  Stories featured include future car politics, industry news and thought pieces.

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If you have an interesting story about the Car of the Future, please feel free to send us a link to the NMA Email address nma@motorists.org.

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