Drone Wars: How Amazon.com, Inc. Drones Could Have Serious Competition

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International is the world's largest nonprofit dedicated to advancing unmanned systems and robotics, and serves thousands of members. Motley Fool analyst Rex Moore chatted with AUVSI president Michael Toscano, a leading expert in the field, about the future of drone deliveries -- such as what Amazon.com  (NASDAQ: AMZN  )  proposes -- and other applications of the technology.

In this video segment, Toscano explains that AUVSI has been looking at larger-scale unmanned delivery systems for courier services such as FedEx  (NYSE: FDX  ) or UPS  (NYSE: UPS  ) for several years now. He says that a lower-altitude application such as the one proposed by Amazon is a logical extension of the same idea.

A full transcript follows the video.

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Michael Toscano: The buzz -- as you've already alluded to -- and the fact that this has now had a positive step forward, that people recognize that this is a forthcoming technology. Obviously, it also highlights the fact that there's a lot of work that still needs to be done to make sure that we can safely fly these systems in the national airspace.

Rex Moore: Did you have any idea this was coming, on the show?

Toscano: No, I did not. As a matter of fact, I was watching 60 Minutes and I was surprised, in the sense that he made this announcement. It's something that we've been talking about for the last three to five years, as a delivery system, and most of it has been for the larger systems like FedEx, UPS, DHL, to move large amounts of cargo from point A to point B -- things that would be on a larger scale, flying at a much higher altitude.

To now migrate that down to the less than 400 feet from the ground level, it only makes perfectly good sense. Again, it's one of those things that may have turned up the game, so that more people are interested and say, "OK, how do we make this happen?"


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  • Report this Comment On April 08, 2014, at 11:09 AM, HewO wrote:

    An unmanned flying system is no more economical than commercial aircraft unless it operates autonomous. Current unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) that military use are not completely autonomous. There are people who control the flight, and there are who decide to shoot missiles or conduct other operations. Amazon's proposed system cannot operate without the operator from land. Robotics may ultimately be able to replace the pilot and the ground controller in let's say 30 years, but in order for it to happen, massive programming and system development has to occur. It should be national and international level government project. It is not cheap.

    Rather than dreaming about the drone replacing delivery persons, it is much cheaper to rely on mailmen who goes out the route every single day, and deliver multiple items to the door.

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