|UPS Might Follow Amazon's Lead in Using Unmanned Flying Vehicles|
|By JOANNA STERN (@joannastern)||Dec 3, 2013, 3:57 PM|
Selecting "Drone Delivery" instead of "Next Day Air" or "Standard Shipping" might become a very real option, and not just from Amazon.com. After Amazon announced its plans for Amazon Prime Air on Sunday evening, UPS confirmed to ABC News that it, too, was experimenting with drone delivery.
"The commercial use of drones is an interesting technology, and we'll continue to evaluate it. UPS invests more in technology than any other company in the delivery business, and we're always planning for the future," UPS told ABC News in a statement.
The Verge, which first reported on UPS' plans, said that UPS had been "testing and evaluating different approaches" to using drones to deliver packages. It might use the flying vehicles not only to deliver packages but also to move packages around its own warehouses and locations.
But this is all still quite far out. Even Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who has gotten everyone buzzing about drone delivery since his big reveal on "60 Minutes" last Sunday, admitted that.
"The hardest challenge in making this happen is demonstrating to the standards of the FAA that this is a safe thing to do. This is years of additional work at this point," Bezos said. The FAA's rules surrounding unmanned aerial vehicles could be in place as early as 2015.
Even if the technology is in place to make this happen, however, many have doubts on the policy front.
"There are huge legal questions here. Not only do we have tactical questions but we have these civil liberty questions about privacy," Stephen Ganyard, ABC News' aviation consultant and expert, said. Ganyard brought up questions about the cameras on these flying vehicles, liability if someone was hurt by one of these devices and their access to private areas.
"I don't think there is any problem from the technology side," he said, "but on the policy side there are a lot of questions that remain to be answered."