Question: What flies through the sky delivering presents the night before Christmas?
Answer: An Amazon Drone.
This is not the case quite yet, but may well be in the not too distant future, as most of you have probably heard by now. Amazon chief executive and robot fanatic, Jeff Bezos, plans to have a squadron of unmanned ‘octocopters’ deployed in the next five years, capable of delivering packages of up to about 2.3 kilos (86% of Amazon sales are comprised of small goods).
(Courtesy if business2community.com)
The company’s proposed new Luftwaffe will be known as Amazon Prime Air. Some have claimed that the announcement was a mere publicity stunt on the part of Amazon, but with battalions of Kiwa robots already at work in the retail behemoth’s depots, it seem likely that Amazon has ambitions to expand its empire upwards.
Conservatives, already up in arms over the erosion of Christmas traditions (c.f. Sarah Palin) are no doubt already ruing the day when children, too excited to sleep on Christmas Eve, lie up in bed, ears turned to the heavens, awaiting the buzz of an Amazon drone. However there are quite a number of obstacles to contend with before these battery fueled, GPS directed drones become a reality. Issues that will need to be resolved include:
- Battery Life (currently only about 20-30 mins)
- GPS Issues (notably distance)
- Secure Wireless Connection
- Existing Flying Safety Regulations (issues with flying over densely populated areas)
- In-Flight Collisions (birds/remote control airplanes/UFOs)
- Landing Issues (cars/dogs/thieves)
It would be mere conjecture at this point to comment on whether at Christmas time these Apocalyptic Santae will be dragged by robotic reindeer, will be coming down chimneys, if they will emit ‘ho ho’ noises and if they will expect to have brandy left out for them. To mention nothing of the children left wailing in their wake, having discovered that the Amazon Santa drone is not the Christmas present after all, but rather the tacky, cheap, Chinese made plastic toy it left behind.
A number of Amazon’s competitors have responded to the drone announcement with announcements of their own. Book retailer, Waterstones, have outlined plans for O.W.L.S, (Ornithological Waterstones Landing Service). Waterstones were keen to stress that it will take a number of years to train the owls to deliver books. In the United States, gift certificate company, Groupon, responded to the announcement with plans to use medieval style catapults to make deliveries.
Though Amazon’s competitors ridiculing their drone plans might prove mildly amusing in the short term, there is nothing in the history of this innovative online retailer, bent on global domination, to suggest that they will not soon be ruling the skies.
Click on the link below to view an Amazon Prime Air drone demonstration.
Click here to read my blog post about Amazon’s robotic workforce.