Amazon’s challenges to turn Jeff Bezos’ drone delivery dreams into reality

Amazon’s challenges to turn Jeff Bezos’ drone delivery dreams into reality
FILE PHOTO: The Amazon logo is seen outside its JFK8 distribution center in Staten Island, New York, U.S. November 25, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid.

Have you ever been so impatient that you wished your package would just teleport to your house at that given moment? Jeff Bezos had a similar (not so instant) vision – delivery drones that could bring parcels to customers’ homes in just 30 minutes. But it’s been 10 years since he first mentioned this, and we may have to wait a little longer before it becomes a reality.

Regulators in the US have raised public safety concerns after a serious drone crash sparked a massive fire at the company’s testing site in Oregon. But with rivals advancing their own drone programs, Amazon is definitely feeling the heat.

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“Someone is going to have to get killed or maimed for them to take these safety issues seriously,” said Cheddi Skeete, a former Amazon drone project manager who claims to have been fired for expressing concern to his managers. “How can we bring these tests to more communities when we know we have problems.” Amazon spokesman Av Zammit denied Skeete was terminated for speaking up.

“With rigorous testing like this, we expect these types of events to occur, and we apply the learnings from each flight towards improving safety. No one has ever been injured or harmed as a result of these flights, and each test is done in compliance with all applicable regulations,” said Zammit. “Safety is our top priority.” Amazon plans to increase testing over the coming months in new locations. But after all the necessary checks, it will take years before the FAA, a US federal regulator, approves commercial drone deliveries.