Kenneth from Texas writes:
This may not be a computer question, however, you posted on your page in the news about Amazon testing this drone delivery service right to your door. Pretty good ideal. Except, I want to know how will this work if you live in a large apartment complex where there are many buildings with letters and apartment numbers?
Like the automobile, television, and the Internet before it, there’s a new technology coming that’s changing the way the world works. Drones are no longer just the province of governments for surveillance and combat operations, and are quickly becoming a hot topic both for private hobbyists and major businesses.
Last year Amazon’s Jeff Bezos dropped a bomb in an episode of “60 Minutes” by revealing plans for unnamed aircraft delivery called Amazon Prime Air. Unfortunately there hasn’t been much of the way in concrete information coming from Amazon since the initial announcement in 2013 (other than the brief promo video available below), which has led some to speculate it was more of a publicity move to get people talking than a real plan to be implemented in the near future. The announcement even became the butt of a joke from Netflix when the DVD delivery company released a gag video called Netflix Drone To Home.
Despite many lingering questions, it appears Amazon Prime Air is actually a reality, as the company just last month issued a statement about how FAA regulations won’t stop development of the program. When it finally arrives, there are plenty of kinks to be worked out, such as Kenneth’s question about apartment delivery.
A delivery drone obviously wouldn’t be able to open doors – and clearly couldn’t get inside secured apartment buildings with locked outer doors anyway – so it seems likely some sort of notification would be used instead. While Amazon hasn’t commented on this issue in particular, a phone call or text message system would almost certainly need to be implemented letting the customer know their package is waiting outside. It’s also unclear if there will be any sort of security code or password needed in order to access your package. While some have speculated about drones hovering outside a window to deliver to above-ground floors, that seems far too likely to result in injury or dropped packages. Of course, the initial launch of Amazon Prime Air is likely to be small-scale for testing only in certain areas, so it may not even be available for apartment buildings at all.
That’s by no means the only issue to be overcome however, as theft, vandalism, and accidental injuries are major question marks. Safety is a serious concern, as whirring blades flying by at high speeds are clearly a danger to both flying animals and people simply passing by, as was made clear in 2013 when Roman Pirozek was killed by remote controlled helicopter.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle will be FAA rulings, since commercial drone services aren’t quite even legal yet! Unmanned aircraft are at this time banned by the FAA for commercial use, but the United States Congress has tasked the FAA with setting up new rules for drone usage by September 2015, so that ban is likely to be dropped in the coming years as regulations are set.
Even if Amazon Prime Air never becomes a reality, it’s clear that drone usage is about to become huge in the U.S. both personally and for businesses sooner rather than later.
~ Ty Arthur