Drones, drones, everywhere – that's what Amazon and UPS would like us to believe. What a quick and cheap way to deliver small packages…no union drivers, no diesel or gasoline, less pollution, no traffic jams, quick and on time deliveries, what every company that delivers packages dream of. Every company that is, except eBay according to their CEO John Donahue. He believes that rival Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos' idea of drones delivering packages is nothing more than a "fantasy." PC World quoted him from a Bloomberg TV interview as saying, "We're not focusing on long-term fantasies, we're focusing on things we can do today."
A company must certainly worry about "things (they) can do today," but a company must also look at the future of commerce and think "outside-the-box" if they want to stay competitive or possibly dream of getting ahead. Maybe Donahue is just upset that eBay didn't think of it first. Their eBay Now program, offered in Chicago, Dallas, and the Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens areas of New York, as well as the San Francisco Peninsula area, is nice – for a $5.00 fee you can have your local purchase delivery in under an hour by an eBay shopper. However, that covers very little of the country and eBay is setting up a basis delivery service, much like the messenger services, whereas, Bezos' idea would cover the country and require no human intervention.
Donahue then seems to backtrack and then contradict himself when he says, "I think bold innovation is important. Our focus on innovation is around commerce." Delivering the millions of packages sold is all part of that "commerce," and both UPS and Amazon seem to be preparing for the future, and sooner, rather than later. This idea certainly has to pass FTC, FAA, a Senate committee (or two) and probably the AFL-CIO before it could actually…wait for it…get off the ground. Some experts have said that the battery technology is not yet available for a 20 mile round trip, and even if it does "take-off," very few people would actually see deliveries done in this manner. If you take the 60-100 delivery centers across the U.S. and draw a ten-mile radius around them, you can begin to see how little of the country could actually be serviced.
The idea seems futuristic, and it is, but drones have been around for a long time, and are quite hi-tech and ready to fly. They have long been used on movie sets and in news broadcasts and places we don't even want to know – "we can't handle the truth" kind of thing. So while they may be new to our eyes and the door-to-door delivery enterprise, they are not some kind of "fantasy," but a true reality that may be in use sooner than we expect.
Let us know in the comments or on Google+ how you feel about drones delivering your packages – good or bad idea – fantasy or possibility.