Amazon is pushing the envelope once again. Just in time for holiday shopping, Amazon disclosed a video of its new drone delivery demonstration. While it is not yet a legal form of transportation for packages, nonetheless it is pushing the boundaries of the supply chain and shifting consumers’ expectations for technology.
Two years ago Amazon first announced its intention to use drones for delivery of small packages, showing a prototype octocopter drone. The new version features an updated drone vehicle that flies under 400 feet altitude (thus avoiding trees and houses) and weighs less than 55 pounds. This means that it is within the size limit as stated by the FAA in February. (New commercial operation specifications are expected from the FAA in 2016.)
The drones will have intelligent programming that enables the device to identify and avoid things in the air. Each drone can carry up to five pounds and fly 15 miles, landing on a pre-determined launch pad. And, with an Amazon Prime Air membership, packages are delivered in 30 minutes.
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Discuss distribution channels and supply chain. What are the elements involved, costs, etc.? How will drone deliveries impact supply chains?
- Show the Amazon drone video:
- Discuss the video: implications, risks, issues, benefits, etc.
- Divide students into teams. Have each team select a product that might qualify for delivery via drone and draw a diagram of a possible distribution model both with and without drones.
- Debrief the exercise by having students share their models and discuss the pros/cons.
Source: Amazon, New York Times, other news sources