A Canadian delivery drone service is making a bold prediction about the future of unmanned deliveries.
It comes as Amazon capitalizes on “Cyber Monday” with a splashy new commercial touting home package delivery by drone.
In the video, former Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson tells viewers that the technology is fast going from science fiction to science fact.
Amazon says the craft will fly below 120 meters, and weigh less than 25 kilograms. It says it hasn’t finalized an aircraft design yet, and that there is still no firm roll out date.
That’s not to mention the real hurdle that needs to be cleared: regulation.
So when might we see drone delivery in Canada?
Sooner than you think, says Tony Di Benedetto of home-grown Amazon competitor Drone Delivery Canada.
“It’s definitely George Jetson type technology. But realistically, we anticipate it’s going to be about two years, 2018, when the average person will commence seeing this type of technology happen in real time.”
READ MORE: The future of drones in B.C.
Changing the rules
Currently, commercial drone operators need to get Transport Canada certification to fly, or apply for an exemption if their craft is small enough.
Ottawa says it is reviewing the rules, including possible tweaks to registration, testing, and permitting.
But those changes won’t apply to heavier craft involved in more complex tasks, or drones that fly far away from a pilot.
That’s exactly what companies like Amazon and Drone Delivery Canada want to do – and Di Benedetto says Canadian regulators could clear that hurdle within the next year.
“Where the sticky point comes in is what they call ‘beyond line of sight.’ Where there are autonomous devices that fly beyond what the operator can physically see from the ground. And that’s going to be the next legislative aspect that they tackle.”
The US FAA is already rolling out a first phase of changes to drone rules South of the Border, and Di Benedetto thinks Canadian regulators will adopt a similar framework.
And he says IT companies are forging ahead with new technology, like avoidance chips, that should allay fears about collisions.
Di Benedetto says he thinks when the technology does roll out, it will come to rural areas first before moving to urban centers.
And he says while all of the attention has been focused on whether you can get a new pair of shoes or pizza in 30 minutes, the tech actually has revolutionary potential.
“If you look at it in terms of disaster zones, delivering emergency supplies or defibrillators, medicine, food – whatever it may be. Or in rural areas where roads don’t exist…”