Google, Amazon and Domino's Pizza are big fans. The FAA is feeling it out. But one person clearly not a part of "Team Drone" is Matty Rose, a 70-year-old Vietnam veteran and retired mail carrier.
Google announced Wednesday that it tested drone delivery of items like dog treats, vaccines and candy to farmers in Australia. Though companies like the search giant are figuring out the legalities of FAA rules regarding commercial drone use, the realities of food and product deliveries by small aircraft appear to be closer than ever before.
Though no companies have declared they will replace mail delivery, Rose says you can count him out of the fan club if they ever decide to do so when it comes to packages and letters.
"I don’t think letter carriers can be replaced. Everything else can be automated or bar-coded to every state for the same price," he said. "But somebody has to deliver it."
A former union officer for the National Association of Letter Carriers, Rose delivered mail for more than 12 years in Hollywood, Florida, north of Miami, after his military service in 1966. He is now the president of Nalcrest Trustees, a 500-unit retirement community in Central Florida for former letter carriers.
"The Postal Service is part of the fabric of this nation," said Darleen Reid, a spokeswoman for the United States Postal Service. "Postal employees make a difference in every community across the country."
Here are some of the reasons mail carriers may be better than drones:
1. Drones can't cheer up lonely residents.
"Everybody’s working and busy these days, but in most neighborhoods, especially with people who are seniors, letter carriers are sometimes the only people they get to meet during the course of the day," Rose said. "Letter carriers keep an eye on the elderly and the neighborhood.
2. Mail carriers have saved lives.
"Letter carriers are saving people’s lives and they can stop crimes," he said.
Exhibit A: One mailman in Akron, Ohio, Keith McVey, is credited with saving three lives, including saving a drowning girl from a lake, helping a teen who jumped off a bridge on a snowy day and performing CPR on an unconscious man.
Reid said that in 2013 the Postal Service recognized 262 "employee heroes."
3. Drones can't be Santa Claus.
Since 1912, postal employees, charities and individual and corporate volunteers have helped children and families in need experience the magic of the holiday season by answering letters to Santa.
4. Mail carriers won't drop packages on your head.
"A drone could hover over your head. I don’t know if people would trust drones," whereas many Americans would prefer the "personal touch" of a letter carrier, said Rose. "Something about delivering a letter is special. Look at what we have now. Drones dropping packages on your head. You certainly don’t want that."
5. Your postal worker knows everything about you, hopefully, in a good way.
"The letter carrier knows everything about you: the kind of mail you get, your hobbies, magazines and who you’re fooling around with," Rose said.
6. Drones can't hold food drives.
Reid said the Postal Service and the National Association of Letter Carriers held the largest one-day food drive in the nation. In 2013, more than one million pounds of food were collected. More than one billion pounds of food have been collected since the drive began in 1993.
7. Postal service workers will take a dog bite for you.
Medical expenses from dog attacks cost the Postal Service more than $1.4 million last year, based on data through June 2013. Each year in May, the Postal Service supports National Dog Bite Prevention Week. The campaign raises awareness concerning animal attacks. Last year, 4,734 postal employees were attacked in more than 2,200 cities.