Amazon has been testing deliveries of packages via its Prime Air drone service for several months now. But is it really economically feasible to offer such a service to customers compared to traditional ground delivery methods? A new report claims that the numbers show that air drone delivery might end up being much cheaper.

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The report, from the economic research firm Skylark Services, first states that for an Amazon package that costs $8.50, the costs to ship it via Federal Express average about $2.72 per trip, while shipping it via the US Postal Service costs $2.50 per trip. Then the firm tries to work out the economics of drone deliveries, based on using data from 25 commercial drone operators. It takes into account a number of factors, including how much a battery would cost and its total life, along with a drone’s motors and their operational life, the costs of its rotors and the amount of electricity that’s used per trip.

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Adding in other factors like the cost of maintenance and insurance, Skylark claims the average cost of an Amazon drone delivery flight would be $0.94 a hour. If you throw in the capital costs of such an operation, the firm claims that the overall cost of an Amazon drone delivery per trip will be $1.74.

Those numbers would suggest that Amazon would save a ton of money overall if it started using drones for package deliveries. However, since this kind of operation is still in its infancy, it remains to be seen if their findings are truly accurate. We should learn a lot more about the economics of drone deliveries as Amazon and other companies slowly expand their operations.

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