WASHINGTON — Ever since Jeff Bezos started the website Amazon to sell books, he has wrestled with how to deliver its products as quickly and cheaply as possible. Today, Amazon, now a retail giant, remains obsessed with this issue, building its own fleet of drones, buying trailers for trucks and signing up drivers for on-demand deliveries.
And nowhere is the company’s push to become a logistics and delivery powerhouse more evident than here in the nation’s capital. Amazon has emerged as one of the tech industry’s most outspoken players in Washington, spending millions on this effort and meeting regularly with lawmakers and regulators.
Amazon has pushed officials to allow new uses for commercial drones, to extend the maximum length of trucks, to improve roads and bridges and to prop up a delivery partner, the United States Postal Service.
The efforts are mostly in the early stages, but Amazon already has detractors, particularly for its drone efforts. Some drone makers argue that Amazon is pushing too hard, too fast. And airline and pilots groups have said opening the skies to more commercial drones, which are remote-controlled flying machines, could create safety risks.
“Amazon is disrupting huge industries; retail was a start, then the enterprise market with its cloud platform and now transportation logistics,” said Colin Sebastian, a senior analyst at Robert W. Baird. “This is Jeff Bezos’s playbook, and achieving it by influencing legislation would be consistent with that plan.”