I wonder if December 1st is the new April 1st. Amazon yesterday announced that the company would start using unmanned drones to deliver packages, and this as early as 2015. The company hopes this will become ubiquitous, saying, “One day, Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today.”
I don’t believe this. There are so many reasons why this can’t happen that it just seems like a stunt to grab attention.
To start with, think about safety. A drone – such as the one shown above – has spinning rotors, which can probably cause damage to people, or to power lines. They will certainly be able to navigate through trees and phone lines, but having such devices coming out of the sky would be a hazard to inattentive people. I’m sure Amazon doesn’t intend these to be flown by robots; they’ll most likely hire an army of drone pilots in some third-world country to control them. But when one fails – say, over a school or busy highway – the danger is obvious.
Another thing is that these drones can only operate in certain areas. They can’t work in urban environments, because there isn’t enough room for them to land. So they’ll be limited to areas where there are houses, not apartments or office buildings. People will need to be present to receive the packages; I don’t see how the drones can put them in mailboxes.
The idea of that many unmanned objects flying through the skies is ludicrous. With no flight control system to keep them out of each other’s way – because if this happened, you can be sure that Amazon wouldn’t be the only company using them – accidents would happen often.
Finally, in a country with so many guns as the US, does Amazon really think that these things wouldn’t be used for target practice like aerial piñatas?
No, Amazon’s not going to use drones. They’re getting lots of publicity as a forward-thinking company. Good timing too; this article in The Guardian was also published yesterday, and it highlights the harsh working conditions of the real Amazon drones: the ones who fulfill orders in the company’s huge warehouses.