Are Amazon’s Drones the Future of Product Delivery?

This was originally published on Futuring World, but I thought the topic would get more attention if I reposted it here, and I think it’s a topic that a number of ECW readers would be interested in.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ announcement yesterday on 60 Minutes of its plans to start delivering products by UAVs (drones) has already captured a lot of attention. There does not seem to be any significant technological hurdle to doing what Amazon envisions. Autonomous quadcopters are becoming well developed — as is GPS technology that would allow precision delivery to an intended locations. This mode of transportation has definite advantages in terms of speed and efficiency. In urban areas, ariel delivery of products could cut down on road congestion and consequently fuel consumption.

There are certainly going to be many questions raised regarding issues such safety and privacy — something Bezos talks about in the video below. I also wonder what labor unions might think about this. If many goods start being transported by drones, there could be fewer jobs in the delivery sector. How will retailers react if people can shop online for items and have them delivered in a matter of minutes? Technological development marches on at an increasingly rapid pace, it seems — and developments like this one at Amazon could transform major aspects of our lives in important ways.

  • US_Citizen71

    Interesting concept but…

    - bored teenagers with BB guns or large bottle rockets
    - professional thieves with their own drone that can drop a net
    -GPS jammers or any number of electronic devices

    Could cost them loads of money in a very short period. Lost copter and load.

    There is a reason deliveries are done by a human.

    Then there is : http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/09/07/drone-hunting-licenses-sold-in-colorado-town-ahead-vote/

    • Omega Z

      A new word to add to the dictionary of Official words.
      HackJacking.

  • Christopher Calder

    This is a joke news story. It will never happen in this century. It’s free advertising.

  • Miles

    Can anyone say “FAST FOOD” Delivery via drone mail.

    • Omega Z

      Unless your Fast Food passes over my house & my portable EMP pistol.

  • Buck

    I’m showing a bit of cynicism when I recognize that as we move into the biggest 30 days of shopping of the year, Amazon looks to capture the imagination of all those internet shoppers.

    In effect, to shop at Amazon is equivalent to participating and supporting an exciting future, a hopeful future. These are the good values of my life.

    Aside from that, I believe it to be fundamentally impractical. There is already a ‘billion dollar infrastructure’ with USPS, UPS, FedEx that delivers products in reasonable time frame of a few days.

  • Daniel Maris

    I saw a quadrocopter in action about a year ago. It didn’t make much noise. If there is little noise nuisance you could see this potentially working. However, equally I can see little children getting injured by rotor blades I guess people might have to have a special platform built on their property to receive goods. Obviously won’t work well for people in flats (apartments). But I suppose they could have platforms outside their windows. Will change the look of buildings if that happens.

    • Iggy Dalrymple

      More children will be harmed(and much more seriously) by delivery trucks than by quad/octo-copters.

      I think dronecopter delivery is better suited for Domino’s than for Amazon, although Amazon is the bigger innovator.

      • Daniel Maris

        How do you know? It hasn’t been tried yet. Little kids tend to play out front quite often. Where is the copter going to land? It is something that needs to be thought through. No doubt Amazon have been thinking through. Maybe the copter will hover until a person comes out and give a mobile phone message that the copter will zero in on? I don’t know no. Getting to the vicinity is the easy bit on a not too windy day. It’s landing and offloading the goods that is the difficult bit.

        • Iggy Dalrymple

          Common sense tells me and everyone but you that
          trucks kill and plastic rotors inflict minor lacerations.

          • Omega Z

            Have to disagree Iggy.
            There is a Kid nearly decapitated just recently by an RC Chopper. D.O.A.
            Another definition of RC: Remote Crash. :)

            • Iggy Dalrymple

              OK, I concede, but I would have never thought it possible. Rotors CAN be shielded by a ring-guard.

              When I was a fight student at Pensacola, our instructor was warning us about walking too close to the tailrotor. He told us the story of a recent instructor making the same admonition, when he promptly walked into the tailrotor, sending his head skyward over the chopper.

              • Omega Z

                My Brother was a Crew chief of a chopper in Nam(71).
                Lost 1 of his buddies that way.

                The Story I was speaking of was the son of an RC shop owner who took 1 out & lost control of it. However it was a larger 1 & not a quad.

                Years ago, A guy built like a Dual quad chopper with the pilot seat in the center. I believe he used Briggs & Stratton motors.
                It was all belt drive aligned with pulleys interlinking all the blades to keep the rotation synchronized.
                Sold the patent to the Military. Theoretically there is no limit to the size. They would be able to haul in a MASH unit already for operation.
                It had stability problems. With Computers to keep them synchronized they would work much better today.
                Of course Dirigibles with E-cat would be better.

  • LENR4you

    Volocopter – the world’s first green helicopter.
    http://www.e-volo.com/
    This helicopter with an LENR electric Generator as range extender.
    Perfect for delivering heavier stuff.

  • LENR4you

    Volocopter – the world’s first green helicopter.
    http://www.e-volo.com/
    This helicopter with an LENR stirling electric generator as range extender.
    Perfect for delivering heavier stuff.