Good point, Liz. This story is everywhere right now. It's heard to find anyone who isn't at least mildly familiar with it. Whether it's successful or not, it has brought technology to the forefront and put a spotlight on Amazon. And that, of course, is just what Jeff Bezos wanted.
I just wanted to add something about this bit of news. Last night I was having dinner with my elderly father and uncle and my uncle mentioned Amazon's Octocopters. It just goes to show how really cool designs like this have made it to the mainstream. I was quite keen to share my own "expertise" about this and other innovations that are on the horizon, and it was cool to see how the older generation is marveling at some of the things that are possible today.
It's nice to see the unbridalled passion for new technology the young (and young at heart) have before the cynicism that comes with age creeps in. Technologies that allow a company to produce more with less people are rarely of lasting benefit to society unless they open a frontier to the point where it grows so much that despite fewer jobs per unit output the number of units of output grows sufficiently to keep the same number of people (or more) employed. When something is disruptive to the point where output stays at or near the same levels but employment goes down you get a downward spiral that results in less people having to support more unemployed (or unemployable). If an equitable system doesn't exist to keep enough of these people above water then you have increasing riots on the streets ending in revolution. History offers us many examples of this (not due always to technology of course) yet we seem to let it replay again and again. I know this goes far and wide of the original theme of this article, but until we consider social repercussions of technology we will one day have a rude awakening. I could write a book on this subject, and I'm sure others have but shoring up a dike with fingers plugged in holes is what we are in fact doing when we pull apart the fabric of our economy.
The introduction of drones for delivery will greatly benefit the society. It will make deliveries faster. And anything that saves time is worth the investment. Initially a lot of problems may be associated with introducing a technology, but with time one does figure out solutions to it. Yes but it may create some unemployment but it will also create new employment opportunities as well.
All these problems you have pointed out are valid buy you have to look beyond these problems at the moment. Like if one of the problems is that people getting cut by the copter's blade, the same concern could have been about people getting hit by a FedEx truck. But with time we have found a safe way to introduce cars to the society.
When I was still in college I had to take a GIS class using ESRI software to map out the campus for the campus maintenance department. We used a $5000 trimble hand held unit with the optional external antenna. The post processing showed that many of out coordinates where within centimeters. The only thing we did differently than what the manufacturer suggested during use was that we had our antenna mounted on a monopod held stedy by students with military service and took the reading from the maximum number of satelites available. Trimble claimed something like 15-25ft of accuracy.
However, I think there are some very accurate GIS maps out there that are very accurate and available to the public. I doubt things will show up on the door step, but a drone landing zone, I could see that being required.
ETmax, your point about eliminating jobs is certainly a good point. And besides that, I recall several reports in the paper where the delivery driver either reported a fire or saw something wrong and saved somebodies life. I just can't visualize an automated delivery device ever being a hero.
And also, I agree about the checkout people at stores. I always use the cashier because I always prefer a human face to a computer monitor. Every time, even if they are having a bad day, it is more pleasant to deal with a human than with that computer. And I hope that the managers at Home Depot read this, because their cashiers especially are good to deal with. ( this is not a commecial plug for them, I just shop there a lot)
WilliamK, you have put together probably the biggest most insurmountable issues namely knock them out of the sky to either steal the package or because you think it's spying on you, or kids having fun, and then the terrorism issue where bombs, poisons or anything else could be sent amongst the legitimate users.
Battery technology will likely be preceeded by ICE's providing 10's of kilometers of range so that is easily solved and advances in on-board intelligence will solve the GPS and manual control issues along with obstacle avoidence, and this has already been demonstrated in labs.
But as someone else mentioned earlier blades cutting people is a real risk also and the ensuing lawsuits will likely break Amazon.
I also think about what happens to an economy when 95% of jobs are removed? Who then earns the money used to buy the goods or services?
I mean no delivery trucks, no checkout chicks, no waiters etc. really all adds up to no customers. It has to stop somewhere.
New glass coating, the design of which was inspired by two disparate examples in nature -- a moth’s eye and lotus leaf -- could mean significant improvements for solar panels, lenses, military equipment, windows, and other products in the future, thanks to the Department of Energy.
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