Using Amazon drones is a good idea
Published: Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Updated: Thursday, December 5, 2013 00:12
It seems like drones are everywhere in the news. Just yesterday they were featured on YouTube videos and tech demos like playful preteens, and now they're all ready to move out on their own and get real jobs. At least, that is what the recent press announcement from Amazon suggests.
Amazon said that by 2015 they would employ swarms of drones to deliver packages in as little as 30 minutes to your doorstep. This sudden burst of maturity raises a lot of questions. Will people shoot down drones? What happens if a drone collides with a person? How long until the cruel, buzzing, robotic overlords begin their mandatory “no flesh Friday” campaign at my place of employment?
Fear not, my friends! The answers are out there, and they're not as scary as you might think.
I've taken a smattering of the most searched drone questions and sorted through the dregs of the internet, books and even (gasp) newspapers to provide the best answers I can.
Will people steal things?
Yes. Fortunately, Amazon knows this and will likely be borrowing a solution from the true pioneer of drone delivery – Zookal. Zookal is an Australian textbook-renting company that began testing drones in the kangaroo nation last November. Concerned with mankind's persistent kleptophilia they developed a series of “drop centers” that their drones operate out of, allowing the drones to make short, controlled flights from warehouse to center to door. Their drones fly at three hundred feet and only land at target drop points. So far they have yet to lose a single drone or delivery.
Will drones really be out by 2015?
Probably not. Like all the best tech, the drones will likely be delayed by legal and social forces. For example self-driving cars were developed in 1994 and legalized in 2011. Technology that augments vision like the Google Glass had a functional prototype built in 1981, but the first release date was scheduled for “sometime in 2012” and the current release date “maybe 2014?”
Despite Usenet being established in 1980, memes are still illegal in Australia due to horrible intellectual property laws.
Is my favorite delivery person going to lose his or her job?
No. The drones Amazon are currently working with have 30-minute battery lives, can't fly in the rain, can't ring doorbells, can't fly with anything more than five pounds in tow, and can only drop off one box at a time. Instead of worrying about your delivery man, you should be thrilled for your cousin, the one with a degree in aerospace engineering who was worried about the death of his field and career path but now is being put to work to build mapping drones, forest fire-fighting drones, medical service drones, and Amazon delivery drones.
This isn't going to turn into some weird robot uprising thing, is it?
No, it's not a Google project. You should be more worried about the large, fast, all-terrain, self-driving cars than the small, plastic, buzzing box carriers.
Ultimately, drone delivery is only going to create more high-paying jobs and let you high five a tiny flying robot when it brings you your next shipment of whatever it is you buy. What more could you honestly want out of the future?