Homing Drones

by , Dec 2, 2013, 11:56 AM
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Amazon's vision of an automated delivery system -- "Amazon Prime Air" -- went viral last night, and for good reason. Considering the announcement weekend was the one wedged in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the whole country was ready to hear about something that makes shopping even easier and faster.

The proposed 30-minute purchase-to-doorstep delivery method is about as real-time as it gets for an actual purchase. Once you consider the round trip travel to a store, finding what you want, and standing in line, 30 minutes might even be faster than "the regular way."

Phrases like "groundbreaking" and "game changing" were tossed around last night by wide-eyed consumers. But as my girlfriend so eloquently put it: "What if it hits some birds?"

Speaking of birds, the whole thing reminds me of homing pigeons. You know, using birds to deliver messages? Except instead of actual animals, Amazon is going the drone route. Homing drones.

But the word "drone" is oftentimes culturally synonymous with "soulless harbinger of [nothing good]."

With that in mind, I have to ask: Is the drone equipped with a camera? What if it takes a peek inside a bedroom as it's delivering a package and sees something private?

Amazon says they are working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on rules to ensure public safety. That's all well and good, but I think an equally important question is whether or not people are actually comfortable with this.

People are still warming up to retargeting when going from one Web page to the next, and that is a somewhat easy problem to work around for those truly uncomfortable. But when it comes to real life targeting -- real life targeting by drones, for what it's worth -- are they going to be okay with it? It's not like retargeting, where it's your own personal computer and you can delete cookies or block tracking if you wish. We're talking about the real, actual, physical world we all share.

The solution of "don't buy from Amazon Prime Air" isn't a solution, because if we are to take Amazon's word for it, by 2015 the delivery drones might be "as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road."

4 comments on "Homing Drones".

  1. Randi Priluck from Pace University
    commented on: December 2, 2013 at 4:21 p.m.
    We have 1:1 communications, why not 1:1 distribution? It is the ultimate in place utility and could give Amazon an even larger advantage over smaller retailers. Yes there are privacy issues, but also concerns about adding yet another mechanism for endless consumption.
  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited
    commented on: December 2, 2013 at 5:55 p.m.
    It produces a field day for PI attorneys. YAY !
  3. Pete Austin from Triggered Messaging
    commented on: December 3, 2013 at 4:32 a.m.
    Whenever I've seen people flying model aircraft, they have been surprisingly loud. Are Amazon drones really as quiet as the video suggests?
  4. Tara Vetro from Vibrant Media
    commented on: December 4, 2013 at 2:45 p.m.
    There are definitely kinks to work out as far as privacy and safety but it's not so far off from on-the-ground messenger services. And if someone is willing to pay - likely an astronomical (pardon the pun) fee - for the service, why not?

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