Forget Drones: Your Next Delivery Could Be From a Sidewalk Robot


Since Amazon announced its audacious plan to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to deliver packages last year, all the chatter about the “last mile” of getting goods from product hubs to consumers has revolved around drones.

As e-commerce sales continue to rise, putting pressure on delivery capacity, business is understandably excited by the prospect of a solution that could cut costs.

But because of all the questions and regulatory hurdles surrounding the Blade Runnerimage of a sky crowded with aerial vehicles, it may be some time before Amazon Prime Air and similar proposals from startup competitors to DHL, FedEx and UPS are airborne – at least in U.S. skies.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s just-released rules governing the use of drones don’t provide much encouragement. Drones must still be in the line of sight of those operating them. One easing of restrictions was that drone can now be operated beyond daylight hours into twilight if they have lights, according to PCWorld.

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