The skies are getting a little crowded these days with the growing flocks of unmanned vehicles -- that is, drones. To remedy that, Amazon, which wants to use flying robots for package delivery, has proposed carving out a high-speed transit zone in the atmosphere to accommodate them and keep them away from airplanes.
The online retailer isn’t alone in thinking regulations are needed to maintain order in the skies, the Wall Street Journal notes in a story about Amazon’s proposal to allot a portion of the airspace between 200 and 400 feet above the ground for advanced unmanned aircraft. The company is collaborating with Google and NASA to push an air traffic control system forward, according to San Jose Mercury News.
When you think of companies with plans deliver by drone, Amazon and Google are probably the first that come to mind. But as with any technology revolutionizing business, there are other, smaller businesses looking to disrupt the system. Here are a few companies that may be in a position to benefit from Amazon's efforts to make some space for drones.
This Silicon Valley startup has built a drone that can devise its own route to fly up to 12 miles carrying a 2.2 pound load, according to Fortune. The company was reported in May to be working on launching a delivery program in Sweden.
“From the get-go, our mission has been to figure out the technology that will let people do the transport themselves,” Matternet CEO Andreas Raptopoulos told Fortune.
This Loveland, Ohio-based maker of electric trucks is developing a drone that works with its trucks to make deliveries. The drone will pick a one off package going to a different part of town from the truck, leaving the rest that are going en masse to different locations together to be delivered by the driver, according to Computer World. The drone uses a combination of autonomous and manual control.
"Our concept is, you have a package-delivery drone that rides on top of a truck as the driver goes about his day, and helps to pick off outliers on his route to help cut down on the cost of delivery per package," Computer World quoted Workhorse mechanical engineer Elliot Bokeno as saying.
This Australian drone startup gets credit for the first drone delivery in the U.S. approved by the FAA. The drone earlier this month delivered 24 medical packages to a clinic in West County, Va., in three flights, according to the Guardian.
“Proving that unmanned aircraft can deliver lifesaving medicines is an important step toward a future where unmanned aircraft make routine autonomous deliveries of your everyday purchases,” Flirtey chief executive Matt Sweeny reportedly said in a statement.
Other than medicine deliveries, Flirtey is interested in shuttling retail products, fast food, letters and parcels, according to the company’s website.