Washington University, St. LouisEngineering

Amazon drones: Technology almost there, insurance and regulation still far off

12/13/2013

By Neil Schoenherr, news.wustl.edu

For Amazon’s recently announced drone delivery system to get off the ground, the company will have to solve numerous difficult technological challenges. Chief among them will be increasing battery life, getting the drones to work without a central command and to “think” on their own, and determining what kind of navigation sensors they will use.

As complicated as those tasks may be, says a robotics expert at Washington University in St. Louis, they will be much more easily solved than the seemingly more simple issues of regulation and insurance.

“In all of the discussion I’ve read about the Amazon drone program, I’ve seen nothing about how these drones will be insured,” says Humberto Gonzalez, PhD, assistant professor of electrical engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Science.

“Google currently has cars that can drive themselves. We have drones that can maneuver on their own in small numbers. From a robotics standpoint, the technology is there,” Gonzalez says. “But the reason these aren’t more widespread is that the insurance companies must be on board.”

Gonzalez’s research interests are in the broad area of dynamical systems, with an emphasis on computational tools for cyber-physical systems. He studies how components act in tight coordination and how robotic systems interact in open environments.

Read more in the WUSTL Newsroom.

 

Back to News Directory

Washington University in St. Louis School of Engineering & Applied Science, Department of Electrical & Systems Engineering

Green Hall, CB 1042, 1 Brookings Drive, Saint Louis, MO, USA 63130
Phone: (314) 935-5565, Fax: (314) 935-7500

Reduce Font SizeEnlarge Font SizePrint Page