As the festive season approaches, Amazon announces plans to deliver goods direct to your homes via flying drones. So could Santa be out of a job?
With Christmas just around the corner, you’re no doubt preparing for the Christmas break. If you’re anything like is, you’ll be preparing your infrastructure for an influx in web traffic, backing up your data in time for the office closure or running around trying to get your shopping done.
So it was nice to have a refreshing break from the pre-Xmas slog this week when we read about Amazon’s apparent plans to start delivering their goods via flying drones.
The online retail giant announced they are testing unmanned flying drones that could potentially deliver goods direct to people’s houses, leading to far quicker delivery times. The drones, fancifully named as Octocopters, are able to carry packages up to 2.3kg, and could potentially see items being delivered to customers within 30 minutes of the order being placed online.
The project is still in its early stages, and Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, says that it could take up to five years before it can be rolled out. “I know this looks like science fiction, but it’s not,” he told CBS television’s 60 Minutes programme. “We can do half-hour delivery… and we can carry objects, we think, up to five pounds (2.3kg), which covers 86% of the items that we deliver.”
Not everyone is entirely convinced, however. One Guardian journalist took to his keyboard to debunk the announcement as nothing more than a well-timed publicity stunt to both draw customers to the site in time for Christmas, and also to deflect attention from recent bad press about conditions for workers at Amazon’s warehouses.
There’s no denying that this news puts the Amazon brand in people’s minds at a pretty convenient time as shoppers prepare for the Christmas rush. And there’s nothing like a bit of futuristic tech speculation to distract people from darker subjects they might be dwelling on. But is it just a big stunt?
Certainly the technology is still several years away from being perfected. And navigating their way past UK and US aviation legislation will be another massive hurdle, as the US Federal Aviation Administration has not yet approved the civilian use of unmanned drones. Not to mention security issues – what’s to stop people shooting down a passing drone and pinching that ironing board cover you’re waiting for? And how exactly are they supposed to knock on the door, anyway?
Amazon are innovators, if nothing else. The retailer continues to grow despite the recession – no mean feat in itself. They’ve conquered the digital reading world with their all-powerful Kindle, and taken a share of the tablet market with their Kindle Fire range of devices. And with their billionaire founder, Jeff Bezos, not only making waves in the private space race with his Blue Origin company, and also rescuing Apollo shuttle engines from the bottom of the Atlantic ocean, Amazon is clearly a company that achieves. So we wouldn’t be surprised if there’s more to the story than a simple bit of press spin.
And with Google also working on robotics projects that could one day see items being delivered by robots, and making progress in their plans to create driverlesss cars, perhaps the race is actually on.
We reckon Santa is safe for now, but perhaps he should keep glancing over his shoulder from time to time.
Are you looking forward to robotic deliveries? Leave a comment and let us know.
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