The Stack Archive

Amazon considers ‘Uber-style’ amateur delivery service, rejects state drone interference

Wed 17 Jun 2015

Amazon is considering an Uber-like approach to deliveries, offering the average Joe the chance to drop off customers’ packages “in their neighbourhood.”

According to a Wall Street Journal [paywalled] report, the initiative is currently going by the name of ‘On My Way’ and would use a network of retailers as distribution centres. Traditional delivery services would deliver packages to shopfronts rented by Amazon. From these centres, amateur drivers would pick up the items and deliver them to their final destination.

There are many potential advantages that spring to mind. Amazon drivers would be able to work at any hour of the day that suited them and deliver to any location that they wish, as opposed to working a standard delivery route. However, this is likely to lead to increased delivery costs.

As is the case with the controversy surrounding Uber, many are also asking about the security and privacy issues at stake – what is to stop amateur deliverymen from keeping the packages for themselves?

The report did not reveal any details on how much the delivery drivers would get paid, but suggestions seem to point to the idea that drivers could be paid in Amazon credit.

Amazon has been making considerable efforts over the past years to boost its delivery times, notably developing drone technology. Today, the e-retail giant made a call to Congress requesting that U.S. legislators refrain from hampering automated drone research. Amazon argued that a set of nationwide rules must be implemented to encourage the development of programmes like its Prime Air service.

“Overly prescriptive restrictions are likely to have the unintended side-effect of stifling innovation and, over time, will fail to offer any corresponding safety benefit as small unmanned aerial system (SUAS) technology improves,” said Paul Misener, head of Amazon’s public policy team.

“If a consumer wants a small item quickly, instead of driving to go shopping or causing delivery automobiles to come to her home or office, a small, electrically powered SUAS will make the trip faster and more efficiently and cleanly,” he added in the testimony.

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