Just how close are we to getting Amazon deliveries by drone?


Kara Swisher, Lauren Goode and April Glaser discuss on Too Embarrassed to Ask.

If you live in a techie area like Silicon Valley, you may know one or two people who have a drone. But how long will it be till drones really (ahem) take off?

On the latest episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask, Kara Swisher and Lauren Goode discussed this big question with Recode’s drone reporter April Glaser. She acknowledged the remote-controlled flying vehicles may seem like “expensive toys” right now, costing $800 to $1000 or more for a high-end model.

However, drones are starting to see some practical use cases around the world, like air-dropping blood and plasma to remote health clinics in Rwanda, or aiding in recovery efforts after Hurricane Matthew. And, of course, there’s Amazon Prime Air, the initiative the company first started talking about in 2013 that aims to deliver packages by drone.

“Drone delivery is going to solve what people call the ‘last-mile problem,’” Glaser said. “Sure, you can ferry goods to a central location, but once you have to send them to each individual driveway, to each front door, that takes a lot of time, and it costs money, and people really get slowed down on the road because of traffic.”

However, don’t expect door-to-door drone delivery until 2020 at the earliest, Glaser said. In the U.S., Amazon has been hampered by slow-moving regulators, although it has been able to iterate and test more successfully in Canada and the U.K.

That regulatory murkiness extends to consumers as well, and may be a reason for some folks to hold off on making that $800+ purchase.

“These are an investment, and people want some clarity about what they can and can’t do with it because they’re so much money,” Glaser said.

Later in the show, the trio answered questions from our readers and listeners about the best consumer drones currently on the market and the safety and privacy concerns surrounding this emerging technology.

Have questions about drones that we didn’t get to in this episode? Or have another tech topic on your mind? You can tweet any questions, comments and complaints to @Recode with the hashtag #TooEmbarrassed. You can also email your questions to TooEmbarrassed@recode.net, in case Twitter isn’t your thing.

Be sure to follow @LaurenGoode, @KaraSwisher and @Recode to be alerted when we’re looking for questions about a specific topic.

If you like this show, you should also check out our other podcasts:

  • Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher is a weekly show featuring in-depth interviews with the movers and shakers in tech and media every Monday. You can subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.
  • Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.
  • And finally, Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events such as the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on iTunes — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Kara and Lauren. Tune in next Friday for another episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask!

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