Need the latest Criterion or a replacement copy of The Dark Knight on the fly? No problem! Let Amazon fly that in for you. According to AOPA AVIATION eBRIEF and confirmed by Amazon, online retail mega giant Amazon.com has announced that they’re in the the testing phase of a new delivery system that involves the use of drone technology and promises the possibility of Amazon 30 minute delivery service.
Dubbed “Amazon Prime Air”, the system essentially consists of an item being placed into a durable plastic box, which makes its way down a conveyor belt where an “unmanned aerial vehicle” waits. The box slides under the vehicle, a series of mechanisms locks onto the box and the drone then flies off to a destination using an automated global tracking system. The delivery task is completed once the vehicle lands on a yard or doorstep at the location, releases the box and then flies back to the warehouse.
Amazon has already posted various FAQ’s on their website in regards to the new service. “It looks like science fiction, but it’s real” they wrote on their website. “From a technology point of view, we’ll be ready to enter commercial operations as soon as the necessary regulations are in place.”
They’re not kidding. The company is currently working with the Federal Aviation Administration to hammer out the policies under which they’d be required to operate such a risky service and their view of the future is having a sky cluttered with these drones as soon as 2015: “Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today.”
Public reaction to the announcement is mixed at best, with comments about how this could simply be a PR stunt to folks who use FedEx as an example of success when all the naysayers said such a service wouldn’t work. As a member of AOPA, an Aviator and a person who is usually pro-anything when it comes to lax aviation rights, allow me to say that I think this is just about the worst idea in the long sad history of worse ideas. Aside from all the safety issues and the fact that this is going to be an insurance nightmare to get off the ground (no pun intended), getting your DVD’s from Amazon 30 minute delivery, by air, is going to be one of the noisiest delivery options one can choose.
Let’s assume for a moment that this service is only available to the country bumpkins and small town folks who actually have real homes and don’t live in apartment buildings. Your neighbors are going to hate you (if they don’t already) and on top of that, every time that little bastard lands on your lawn, you’re putting them, you and your family at serious risk. I hope that latest Criterion was worth little Sally getting her throat slit by one of the rotor-blades. That’s all it takes for a lost investment. I can guarantee that one incident is all it would take for local municipalities to draw up laws forbidding such delivery services and if they can’t easily get laws passed, the use of bureaucratic resistance is always a tried & true time tested option.
Check out the video Amazon posted to its YouTube Channel on Sunday: