In recent news the internet retail giant, Amazon, has announced that it may be using Quadcopters to deliver packages to its consumers. Although their site gives few specifics about how the system would realistically work and when we should plan to see it in action, many journalists have already begun discussing Amazon’s new idea.
Most of the writers and other critics seem to be skeptical of how practical Amazon’s plans really are. I will admit, Amazon’s concept is flawed in many ways and I feel that it may take awhile before it is seen to fruition. To say that the integration of the system could be accomplished within the next five years is overestimating – not the technology itself – but of the speed in which the proper infrastructure could be put in place to accommodate such a system.
I think I will give them some time to figure out exactly how they plan to do this before I say it’s a failed idea, but I too share the concerns of the many outspoken journalists. One of the big issues with using Quadcopters in this way, is a problem that all Quadcopter-enthusiasts face; the limitations of the machine. While Quadcopters are constantly being customized and upgraded by their owners to have better performance, greater maneuverability and more drive time, their solutions usually only improve upon the problem – not solve it entirely. The unfortunate truth is that most Quadcopters are easily broken, highly influenced by the wind, and tend to have a flying time less than 15 minutes. this is not true for all Quadcopters [the DJI Phantom is a good example] and given another 5 years, these issues could be mitigated significantly. Nevertheless, my suspicions are telling me that these basic problems will still factor into the success [or failure] of the program.
In addition to mechanical factors, legal issues could also cause this new venture to spin out early. By 2015, numerous state and federal laws are expected to be implemented regarding the use of commercial drones in public and private airspace. Some argue that the FAA’s control of the air is too strict, and that opening up the air to commercial use would promote spending; the opposition argues that lifting the restrictions would lead to an infringement of the public’s privacy and constitutional rights. Some states have already passed laws regarding the use of commercial and personal drones, with varying positions on the matter.
Others have brought up more laughable concerns, which may not be entirely impractical. Say a drone is on a delivery route that happens to fly over the house of a young devious kid, or even a common thief. Would it really be so difficult to knock it out of the air with a few shots of a pellet gun? Or what about a bird of prey, confused by the noise, attacking the drone in mid-flight?
And since the mailman will be coming by less frequently, won’t the neighborhood dogs see the drones as a sufficient replacement?
These questions, while imposing many “what-if” scenarios, are completely relevant. If amazon can’t protect its merchandise, the program loses its allure significantly. while protecting drones from animals may be a more difficult task, the idea of robbing a drone is even more realistic. how does a drone, or in this case, a delivery drone company protect against the common thief?
plain and simple, Amazon’s drone program has a lot to work out before it becomes a reality.