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The Network of Deliveries

Last year, Amazon released plans for Prime Air, a delivery option utilizing unmanned drones to deliver packages within 30 minutes. Google also recently announced Project Wing, a similar program intended for longer distances (test flights are in the outback of Australia, vs. Amazon’s planned 10 mile radius). This is accomplished by using a hybrid design in their drones, which are able to take off vertically and fly horizontally, increasing flight range compared to Amazon’s purely helicopter-esque drones.

If either or both companies overcome any remaining technical hurdles, not to mention the numerous legal ones that accompany flying UAVs in civilian airspace, the effect on going from point A to point B would be enormous. These programs would create another avenue of delivery, which would hypothetically decrease delivery time. Depending on the scale of the program, public roads could also see a decrease in delivery truck traffic, slightly speeding up everyday travel. However, to Braess’s Paradox, this new avenue could quickly become clogged, as many customers would choose the fastest delivery option (assuming a reasonable price, of course). This could lead to congestion, and while it may not slow down delivery time to pre-drone times measured in days, it may not be the promised 30 minutes. A possible solution to this could be a dynamically set price, where Amazon/Google checks the current network usage, increasing it with congestion. This would be similar to a toll, albeit dynamically set, like the example in class.

 

Sources:

Mashable

Google

Amazon

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