Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 2nd Dec 2013 23:52 UTC
In the News

We're excited to share Prime Air - something the team has been working on in our next generation R&D lab.

The goal of this new delivery system is to get packages into customers' hands in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles.

On the one hand, this is insanely cool, awesome, and scifi.

On the other hand, with timeframes like this and the big 60 Minutes reveal, it smells like a marketing trick during the holiday shopping season.

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As a former juvenile delinquent...
by Kivada on Mon 2nd Dec 2013 23:58 UTC
Kivada
Member since:
2010-07-07

I'd be knocking these things out of the sky for fun and profit where I 14 again.

Reply Score: 6

oiaohm Member since:
2009-05-30

I am surprised that a former juvenile delinquent is not observant.

The lid of the box is latched on by a arms of the drone.

Shooting it down will still leave the box connect to drone. Next Amazon will know where the drone goes down. So its already like the police are on way. I would suspect more dash and grab. Yes let the drone land drop of box dash out of hiding grab the box and run. Of course this kind of item Amazon can used exploding dye packs or incarceration devices.

Its not very hard to enforce security. Simple have to take box inside and enter receipt pin to disarm.

I really don't think juvenile delinquents wanting goods will be that successful or making any profit. The fully destructive brats on the other hand that is another problem.

Reply Score: 2

Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

It's all moot, they aren't really going to be shipping via drones any time in the next ten years, if ever. It's a marketing ploy designed to get people talking about Amazon during the holiday buying season.

Just like we are doing now.

Reply Score: 13

jgagnon Member since:
2008-06-24

You can bet good money that if Jeff Bezos is behind this then it will happen in some form in the not too distant future. It's the way the guy rolls. He's already figured out how to do it, all he's doing now is trying to push the economics of the idea in the right direction.

How many more people will be working on this problem now that they know there is at least one company willing to spend money to see it happen? Think about it.

Reply Score: 2

ricegf Member since:
2007-04-25

I'd be knocking these things out of the sky for fun and profit

As I recall, Colorado was discussing issuing drone-hunting licenses in August. This seals the deal - NSA drones for fun, Amazon drones for profit!

Reply Score: 5

kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

As a former juvenile delinquent...


Good to hear you're no longer juvenile...

Reply Score: 2

Comment by leech
by leech on Tue 3rd Dec 2013 00:17 UTC
leech
Member since:
2006-01-10

That's instantly what I was thinking! "Hey Pa, there's one of them flyin' things again, lets shoot it down and see what gifts we get!"

They would be like flying pinatas, but with goods instead of candy.

Reply Score: 5

Comment by Drumhellar
by Drumhellar on Tue 3rd Dec 2013 00:59 UTC
Drumhellar
Member since:
2005-07-12

I'll bet Sarah Conner is regretting her Amazon Prime membership right about now.

Reply Score: 7

This is infeasible
by Dasher42 on Tue 3rd Dec 2013 03:39 UTC
Dasher42
Member since:
2007-04-05

You cannot assure delivery with drones, and this mechanism would require huge changes to US airspace laws. This isn't happening anytime soon. This was Amazon making noise.

Reply Score: 6

RE: This is infeasible
by kwan_e on Tue 3rd Dec 2013 04:50 UTC in reply to "This is infeasible"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

Part of the plan (supposedly), is to get the laws changed and the system ready in time for the laws to change.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: This is infeasible
by Vanders on Tue 3rd Dec 2013 14:11 UTC in reply to "RE: This is infeasible"
Vanders Member since:
2005-07-06

I would have loved to have been in that meeting. "We've got a plan. It's technically illegal right now, but hear me out..."

Reply Score: 6

RE[3]: This is infeasible
by kwan_e on Wed 4th Dec 2013 02:47 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: This is infeasible"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

I would have loved to have been in that meeting. "We've got a plan. It's technically illegal right now, but hear me out..."


This happens with regular frequency in the US, if I'm not mistaken.

And there's a difference between illegal and not legally covered. I don't have a full understanding of the laws in place right now, but it doesn't seem like there's an absolute blanket ban on this type of aircraft in the proposed airspace.

Lastly, don't underestimate the legal accommodations that can occur when there's billions of dollars at stake in profits, revenues and taxes. Lawmakers are more than happy to change the law to allow new streams of revenue for the government.

--------------

I have to say it's very strange how people here are cynical about the government in general, but are then suddenly treating the government as if it's interested in upholding the law when commenting on a story discussing something very financially tempting for the government.

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: This is infeasible
by Delgarde on Wed 4th Dec 2013 03:42 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: This is infeasible"
Delgarde Member since:
2008-08-19

And there's a difference between illegal and not legally covered. I don't have a full understanding of the laws in place right now, but it doesn't seem like there's an absolute blanket ban on this type of aircraft in the proposed airspace.


No, it's an absolute ban. Basically, the law says that unmanned aircraft have an operator, and that the operator must be within sight of the aircraft at all times. That is, you can use them for aerial surveying and filming sports events and stuff, but they can't be autonomous, and they can't go flying miles from their controller.

(Presumably, the military has exemptions, since they certainly don't follow the these rules).

Reply Score: 4

RE[5]: This is infeasible
by kwan_e on Wed 4th Dec 2013 03:51 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: This is infeasible"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

No, it's an absolute ban.


Okay.

But I still don't put it past the government to change the law on the promise of more money. Mind you, I say promise, because the government(s) would believe it's going to get tax windfall from this, whereas Amazon and co would be lobbying and/or accounting their way out of paying the taxes.

Reply Score: 3

RE: This is infeasible
by Lennie on Wed 4th Dec 2013 17:59 UTC in reply to "This is infeasible"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

When I first heared about Amazon and drones I wasn't surprised as some other people, because there was news about book delivery service for schools in Australia months before that:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/15/drone-book-delivery-se...

People are even writing articles about how Amazon is late in the game:

http://qz.com/152788/australia-and-china-are-way-ahead-of-amazon-in...

The Zookal company thinks it can start doing deliveries in: March 2014

Reply Score: 3

If this goes ahead
by kwan_e on Tue 3rd Dec 2013 04:52 UTC
kwan_e
Member since:
2007-02-18

If this goes ahead, how long will it be for chimneys to make a come back as a parcel reception system?

Also, would people be allowed to send things via the system?

Reply Score: 4

No chance whatsoever
by Auzy on Tue 3rd Dec 2013 06:19 UTC
Auzy
Member since:
2008-01-20

I have a private pilot license, and I'm pretty sure this plan has NO hope whatsoever. I have spoken to other pilots about it, who don't believe Amazon have a hope in hell.

For starters, with Quadrocopters, if a motor fails, it becomes a 2KG falling brick. Even if you add a parachute, if it lands on your windshield whilst you are travelling at 100kph, good luck.

Ignoring all the privacy and falling risks, GPS can fail too (without RAIM, it cannot be relied on at all). VOR and NDB are used instead of GPS for navigation, but, they aren't super accurate, and work poorly at low altitude.

Will they fly above 500ft? (In which case, they become a risk to helicopters), or will they fly below 500ft (and become a risk to manmade structures and helicopters).

Not a chance, and the risks aren't outweighed by the benefits (the only benefit, is that its cool). It's one thing to fly a 200g AR drone made of foam around the room. It's another to carry a load.

Reply Score: 7

RE: No chance whatsoever
by Lennie on Wed 4th Dec 2013 18:32 UTC in reply to "No chance whatsoever"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

Maybe this will give you some more information:

"While the Australian flight authority still has to approve Zookal’s plans, commercial drones are allowed to fly within 122 meters (400 feet) of the ground."

"The city police where SF Express is testing its drones, which can fly as high as 100 meters, are so far permitting the drone flights."

http://qz.com/152788/australia-and-china-are-way-ahead-of-amazon-in...

Reply Score: 3

RE: No chance whatsoever
by oiaohm on Thu 5th Dec 2013 04:05 UTC in reply to "No chance whatsoever"
oiaohm Member since:
2009-05-30

I have a private pilot license, and I'm pretty sure this plan has NO hope whatsoever. I have spoken to other pilots about it, who don't believe Amazon have a hope in hell.

If Australia is to go by this is incorrect

Will they fly above 500ft? (In which case, they become a risk to helicopters), or will they fly below 500ft (and become a risk to manmade structures and helicopters).


The answer is under 500ft well under. About 120ft clear of buildings and ground. Drones due to size can fly between manmade structures mostly without issue. Yes the airspace helicopters cannot safely use drones can. There should be very little airspace crossing between helicopters and drones. Helicopter getting close enough to hit a drone it most likely already too close to a building or something else.

Drones using modern sensors do have giro and accelerometers. So can use dead reckoning combined with proximity sensors so far. So the navigation issue is forgetting that GPS did not exist for a long time and craft had to deal with just on board sensors. Drones are able to use most of the old pre GPS navigation methods.

Reply Score: 3

Amazon's own delivery service
by Adurbe on Tue 3rd Dec 2013 08:30 UTC
Adurbe
Member since:
2005-07-06

In some cases this would actually be a sensible mode of delivery. For example remote homes in the countryside which are costly and slow to reach using conventional means (think Australian outback or the Alps)

It would also mean Amazon would control the delivery mechanism (3rd party delivery are a source of substantial ill feeling here in the UK)

Reply Score: 1

other companies ahead of Amazon
by aargh on Tue 3rd Dec 2013 10:04 UTC
aargh
Member since:
2009-10-12

I generally dislike the trend of non-OS topics outnumbering OS topics on OSnews, but since this was already posted, here's more interesting relevant news:

http://qz.com/152788/australia-and-china-are-way-ahead-of-amazon-in...

http://technode.com/2013/09/03/chinese-courier-sfexpress-testing-pa...

http://qz.com/120654/china-could-become-the-first-country-to-legali...

Reply Score: 5

Crock
by jackastor on Tue 3rd Dec 2013 14:33 UTC
jackastor
Member since:
2009-05-05

At best they would be able to provide this service to a select few strategically located customers, who would each likely have to pay a membership fee to cover the maintenance/insurance cost of the drone to make it even worth Amazon's effort.

But how frequently does the average person need something the size and weight of a loaf of bread delivered to their house in 30 minutes? Amazon would need insanely full inventory warehouses EVERYWHERE just waiting for people to place an order.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Crock
by Lennie on Wed 4th Dec 2013 18:42 UTC in reply to "Crock"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

This is about the 'last mile' (as they call it in the telco business). The bit from the warehouse to the home/business.

Amazon now has to pay a delivery service to do that delivery. Why not do that last part themselves ?

Everything else will just be trucks/trains/planes as it is now.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by ilovebeer
by ilovebeer on Tue 3rd Dec 2013 17:18 UTC
ilovebeer
Member since:
2011-08-08

Amazon delivery drones? Not happening. But, if you want to talk about something that is, let's discuss the law enforcement and NSA drones that will soon be filling the skies to spy on us. Some places are already enjoying that future today.

Edited 2013-12-03 17:33 UTC

Reply Score: 4

A better, simpler (but not as cool) plan
by amadensor on Tue 3rd Dec 2013 19:02 UTC
amadensor
Member since:
2006-04-10

I live near a place called Sierra Trading Post. They have good deals on outdoor gear. They do have a retail store, but the majority of their business is online. If you order something online, or if it is not in the store, you can go to the warehouse next door and pick it up. Maybe Amazon would be best served by a pick up window at their fulfillment centers. If you choose pick it up there as a shipping option, it goes to the desk instead of out as a parcel. Simple to implement, inexpensive, proven, and takes care of the issue of super quick fulfillment.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by Bengar
by Bengar on Tue 3rd Dec 2013 21:53 UTC
Bengar
Member since:
2009-07-30

Does anyone not worry that if you have Amazon branded drones zooming across the country acting as glorified delivery trucks. Then it would be quite easy to disguise other private, government and police drone activity? This sounds like a great way to pacify the population on the idea of frequent drone operations before a launch of something more nefarious.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by Bengar
by ilovebeer on Wed 4th Dec 2013 00:07 UTC in reply to "Comment by Bengar"
ilovebeer Member since:
2011-08-08

Does anyone not worry that if you have Amazon branded drones zooming across the country acting as glorified delivery trucks. Then it would be quite easy to disguise other private, government and police drone activity? This sounds like a great way to pacify the population on the idea of frequent drone operations before a launch of something more nefarious.

Law enforcement drones are already in use in several places and it's only going to become more common & widespread with every passing day. The domestic spying cat is already out of the bag so what is there to disguise? They aren't going to blatantly tell you what they're doing but when you see a drone flying overhead, it's obviously not because it's taking pictures of birds in flight.

I hate to break it to some of you but we are already living in a `surveillance society` and have been for quite some time. People have written about the similarities between Nazi Germany and what we're doing today. The fact that there are any direct comparisons is scary enough but even more so is that we've taken it to the next level, and the one after that.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by Bengar
by Lennie on Wed 4th Dec 2013 18:43 UTC in reply to "Comment by Bengar"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

I'm pretty certain this isn't about replacing trucks. It's about delivery from a warehouse to the customers, the last part.

Reply Score: 3

xD
by v_bobok on Wed 4th Dec 2013 13:23 UTC
v_bobok
Member since:
2008-08-01

Delivering "hope and change" one drone at a time.

Reply Score: 3

When I first saw this...
by Drunkula on Wed 4th Dec 2013 14:44 UTC
Drunkula
Member since:
2009-09-03

... on the news I immediately thought to myself "incoming care package."

Reply Score: 2

Energy cost?
by emarkp on Wed 4th Dec 2013 16:21 UTC
emarkp
Member since:
2005-09-10

Does anyone have a ballpark figure on the cost in energy for this? It's a lot cheaper to roll a vehicle than to fly one, and cheaper to use fixed wing vs copter.

I think Huff Po got this one right: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/02/amazon-drones_n_4373518.ht...

Reply Score: 2