This morning, I came across an interesting piece on the ABC News website titled “How Drones Will Replace Humans in the Workplace.”
True, this probably isn’t the most burning issue facing HR leaders today, but the commercial use of drones is certainly a topic we’re starting to see a lot more of in the news lately. If there’s been a tipping point here, it probably was Amazon CEO Jeff Bezo’s revelation on 60 Minutes last December that the world’s largest online retailer was exploring the use of drones to deliver packages to its customers.
Since then, drones have left the war zone and have started to appear in our backyards. As a story appearing in The Des Moines Register pointed out last month, real-estate is a natural, with agents “increasingly taking their work to the skies, using remote-controlled aircraft to film bird’s-eye-view video tours of homes, land and commercial properties.”
Asking what jobs might be at risk if and when drones are given clearance by the Federal Aviation Administration to take off commercially, the author of the ABC News piece quotes Mary Cummings, a drone expert who teaches at MIT and Duke University. Cummings suggests delivery jobs, such as UPS and FedEx, are likely candidates, along with police jobs. “Crop dusters might also find their risky work outsourced,” she adds.
(As you might expect, there was no mention of HR jobs. No speculation that, one day, drones might be delivering pink slips to remote workers included in a reduction-in-force.)
A number of obstacles, of course, lie in the way of this becoming a reality, including the need for the FAA to ease up on regulations. But experts expect it’s just a matter of time for that to happen.
In the ABC News piece, Cummings also suggests workers, in general, don’t really need to sweat the commercial use of drones catching on.
‘Ultimately,’ she says, ‘drones will create more jobs than they replace, they will save lives and they will give us capabilities we only dream about—like everyone owning our own flying cars.’ ”