Today’s consumers are a demanding bunch – expecting to get what they want precisely when and where they want it.

These changing expectations are putting the pressure on both brick and mortar retailers as well as online retailers. Pressure grows to deliver goods faster, cheaper, and with more flexibility. Now, customers expect free shipping and overnight delivery or, in some cities, same-day delivery.

It seems same-day delivery might not be fast enough for some. is toying with the idea of delivering packages within 30 minutes – via drone.

In an interview on a recent CBS “60 Minutes” news program, CEO Jeff Bezos discussed his Prime Air unmanned aircrafts, which he claims carry packages up to 5 pounds – the weight of most parcels delivers – and have a range of about 10 miles. This could make them viable in more densely populated areas. Bezos thinks he could get this service up and running in about 5 years.

So is all this drone delivery talk just pie in the sky or a potential delivery path worth considering?

The technology is getting there. It’s already being tested in other parts of the world. In Australia, a textbook rental company, Zookal, plans to use drones to deliver textbooks to students as early as March 2014. Meanwhile, Silicon Valley startup Matternet is testing drone delivery in Haiti and the Dominican Republic and sees the potential for using these small, electric crafts to deliver goods in populated areas where they can make multiple deliveries within their limited range of a few miles.

But it’s likely to be some time before U.S. skies look like something out of “Star Wars,” with thousands of small, autonomous aircrafts zipping around and dropping packages at our doorsteps. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) isn’t moving too quickly to open the skies for commercial drone purposes, and understandably so. The thought of unmanned vehicles flying in areas with lots of air traffic raises significant safety concerns.

Still, innovation is all about experimenting. Many people in the late 19th century thought the light bulb would never catch on. What are your thoughts on these delivery drones? Is driver-free, aerial delivery the answer to the growing demands of consumers? Is this a feasible option for the Postal Service in the coming years? Or could it be more like the Postal Service’s ill-fated test of “rocket mail” from the late 1950s where a cruise missile loaded with mail launched from a submarine? That experiment didn’t gain traction. 

Comments (4)

  • anon

    I was expecting a pkg from a co that is only an hr away from me, it was supposed to be delivered on the 11th however it was rerouted from KC KS to Salt Lake City Utah!!! WTH?????? Nice going USPS!!!! you are soooooooooooooooooo reliable!

    Dec 13, 2013
  • anon

    I agree that the true innovators are thinking about things 4, 5 or 10 years out and that experimenting with these ideas is crucial to developing the "next big thing." With that said, it seems hard to believe that drone delivery will happen in the next decade. First off, same-day delivery has a price threshold at which point it is not attractive to customers. In many surveys, people choose cost over speed of delivery in determining whether to make an online purchase. Other concerns noted in media reports about drone delivery (restricted air space, who is responsible for an accident, vandalism of drones etc.) also seem to get in the way of this being a realistic option any time soon. I guess my advice would be for delivery companies to work on meeting their current service standards and not get too far ahead of themselves.

    Dec 10, 2013
  • anon

    My package must have been snatched by aliens. Where the heck is it - all I can tell from tracking is that it is somewhere in San Francisco. No one can help me, no one cares, and I am just a bother to them. What is going on in San Francisco that they can turn off their phones and not be available to be of service. Pathetic and unbelievable!! Is this what I get with my hard earned tax dollars? I am a widow on a very limited income and I really am frustrated that the package that I spent hard earned money on is lost and no one cares about finding it for me. What a sad situation for anyone to have to deal with.

    Dec 10, 2013
  • anon

    The Post Office is NOT subsidized by Tax dollars.. moron.

    Dec 11, 2013

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