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Amazon is gearing up for Prime Air

There is plenty of discussion surrounding the operation of unmanned aerial vehicles within the U.S. The U.S. National Parks Service put the kibosh on drones within national parks because they “can be extremely noisy, and can impact the natural soundscape.”
More recently, CNN and the Georgia Institute of Technology of banded together to study the use of UAVs for newsgathering and media coverage.
The FAA is slowly warming up to the idea of providing greater freedom to operates UAVs in U.S. airspace, and handed out the first commercial UAV license last month. Now Amazon is knocking on the FAA’s door for permission to start its own UAV trials.
According to Reuters, Amazon is seeking permission to fly drones in the Seattle area in preparation for its much-ballyhooed Prime Air delivery service. Amazon’s Prime Air delivery vehicles would be capable of carrying five-pound packages at up to 50 mph.

As previously reported by Amazon, the five-pound capacity would be enough to support 86% of the products that the company sells on its website. Amazon is hoping that once fully operational, its Prime Air service will be able to deliver packages to customers in 30 minutes or less (you hear that, Dominoes?)
In fact, Amazon has extremely high hopes for its Prime Air service, stating, “One day, seeing Amazon Prime Air will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today, resulting in enormous benefits for consumers across the nation.”

Amazon has the resources to make such an endeavor possible, and noted in its letter that it is already working on its eighth- and ninth-generation UAVs. In addition, the company has amassed a team that includes “world-renowned roboticists, scientists, aeronautical engineers, remote sensing experts, and a former NASA astronaut.”
Amazon is seeking FAA approval because its UAV efforts have thus far been limited to indoor testing or in other countries. Testing a 50 mph drone is obviously problematic and Amazon would rather perform flights tests closer to its Seattle headquarters where it’s cost effective rather than perform the tests in another country.

Sources: Reuters, FAA Request [PDF]

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By Scootie on 7/11/2014 1:40:22 PM , Rating: 2
Am I the only one who thinks that that many propellers will be dangerous around a client?

RE: Propperels
By Brandon Hill on 7/11/2014 2:20:11 PM , Rating: 2
Just imagine the family dog coming to "greet" the UAV. That could be messy

RE: Propperels
By Chadder007 on 7/11/2014 2:31:01 PM , Rating: 2
I can only see bad out of this unfortunately.
Accidents, people shooting them out of the sky like some are already doing, drones being hacked, follow the drone and steal what its dropping off....etc.

RE: Propperels
By Reclaimer77 on 7/11/2014 2:34:53 PM , Rating: 4
Trucks have accidents. Shooting guns randomly in the air is illegal, so not sure what your point is there. Trucks can be followed and have what they dropped off stolen. And you can hijack a delivery truck.

Not sure why there's this silly kneejerk Luddite reaction when delivery drones are discussed. The benefits WAY outweigh whatever risks.

RE: Propperels
By atechfan on 7/11/2014 2:54:40 PM , Rating: 2
Being skeptical of the practicality of an idea does not equal being a Luddite.

RE: Propperels
By Reclaimer77 on 7/11/2014 2:56:57 PM , Rating: 2
Read his post. Where do you see him being skeptical or questioning it's practicality?

Because that's not what he's doing. At all.

RE: Propperels
By techxx on 7/11/2014 2:57:56 PM , Rating: 2
Good point. I feel like delivery drones are going to fall into that category of things society never deemed possible, but becomes the norm. People swore we'd never be able to fly, get to outer space, be able to communicate instantly with anyone around the world, etc.

RE: Propperels
By Schrag4 on 7/11/2014 4:22:30 PM , Rating: 1
Will the drones ever travel outside of city limits? If so, shooting shotguns "randomly into the air" isn't illegal there.

So I take it that the benefit is that you simply get your stuff faster, right? I wonder what kind of fuel efficiency these drones have compared to the trunks that move packages around. I mean, trucks burn a lot of fuel but they're typically hauling at least several thousands pounds of packages at a time. How does a thousand drone round trips compare to a single truck running all day around the city dropping off packages? Honest question.

RE: Propperels
By Reclaimer77 on 7/11/2014 4:38:25 PM , Rating: 1
I'm pretty sure it's illegal to fire your firearms at someone's legal property. So come on, stop being dumb. You know what I'm saying.

I wonder what kind of fuel efficiency these drones have compared to the trunks that move packages around.

They run on batteries and consume a fraction of the required energy for a truck to deliver a package.

Not to mention the human driver, and all the liability and cost that's associated with that.

I don't now how many deliveries they can get out of a single charge, but think about it. Drones never sleep, never eat, never get lost or make mistakes, they never get sick or skip work.

And maybe most importantly, they NEVER sleep with your wife.

RE: Propperels
By Dug on 7/11/2014 4:53:42 PM , Rating: 1
There is a big difference between when someone is there (truck driver) and no one being there at all.
In a truck accident the driver is usually still there so there is a deterrent from items being stolen.

Shooting in the air is done all the time. Doesn't mean it's a caliber gun. Could be pellet, bb, etc. People that are shooting in the air could care less if it's illegal.

Trucks can be followed and have what they dropped off stolen, but where we are the driver rings the door bell. A drone isn't going to do that.

Hijack a delivery truck? Same argument from above. There is a person in the truck. It's an automatic deterrent from theft. Not to mention kidnapping. That doesn't happen when there is a drone as no human is involved.

RE: Propperels
By Jeffk464 on 7/11/2014 6:36:17 PM , Rating: 2
Hell, you don't need a gun, you could probably down one pretty easy with a super soaker.

RE: Propperels
By chimto on 7/11/2014 11:10:27 PM , Rating: 2
I think I read somewhere that you would be informed when your package has arrived. Probably get a call or text message or something where you would know immediately. So pretty similar to ringing your doorbell. Not sure if it would drop the package off without you being there. How would it even know where to drop it.

Not only that but I would imagine you could trigger when the package is to be delivered via phone or some mechanism so that you could wait for it to arrive within the 30 minute timeframe, so really there is no need for it to drop off a package without you there to receive it.

RE: Propperels
By grooves21 on 7/13/2014 12:34:37 PM , Rating: 2
You might be able to request WHERE it is dropped off. Having a drone drop off at your back door vs. a human driver leaving it at your front door would automatically make it more secure.

RE: Propperels
By 1prophet on 7/11/2014 5:09:53 PM , Rating: 3
Trucks have far more accidents than any flying vehicle,

yet when something flying has an accident it is major event because of its greater effect psychologically even though next to truck accidents they are statistically insignificant.

As for the benefits out weighing the risks, the sue happy lawyers will determine that outcome, I can see them turning some minor incident of an overly curious child getting hurt from messing with a drone into half life 2 man hacks attacking helpless child in the name of big payola from the deep pockets of Amazon.

Don't ever underestimate the power of irrationality along with human greed to hold back technological progress.

RE: Propperels
By Reclaimer77 on 7/12/2014 12:04:35 PM , Rating: 2
yet when something flying has an accident it is major event because of its greater effect psychologically even though next to truck accidents they are statistically insignificant.

True but I was hoping these people could tell the difference between a passenger airliner and a little quadcopter RC craft....


RE: Propperels
By NovoRei on 7/11/2014 6:02:47 PM , Rating: 1
You have to compare apples to apples.

Drones flying around is dangerous.

FAA is facing "How to regulate it, how to create assurances that it will be as safe as other vehicles, how to make the risk predictable and deterministic".

drive in pre-determined path ways;
have a driver that can judge and react to situations;
have a driver that's liable for his actions;
have an industry, entities, and so on that can assure the quality of the vehicles;

can fly everywhere; -> can cause accidents everywhere.
does not have an A.I or pilot; -> reaction and judgment is extremely limited.
does not have liability; -> the company has.
does not have an industry, entities, whatsoever that can guarantee a minimum amount of safety, that drones will not start to fall out of the sky.

On contrary, there is no specific "drone" environment as aircraft, automobiles, vessels have.

The short answer is we don't have the technological capability (in several aspects not listed above) yet to mitigate the risk of B2C deliveries.

It's an excellent idea with poor TRL.

RE: Propperels
By Reclaimer77 on 7/12/2014 3:08:24 AM , Rating: 2
I'm just shocked at the absolute Luddite mentality here.

We're about to have legalized self driving cars. And you think these tiny quadcopter's are "dangerous"?

What's the absolute worst that could happen with one of these? They land on someone's head and knocked them out, wow, big freaking deal.

Seriously you're cherry picking the situation and making "drone" adoption sound like some insurmountable hurdle.

drive in pre-determined path ways;

Know how many people die every year in this country for car accidents? And they are driving on "pre-determined" paths...

have a driver that can judge and react to situations;

Uhh yeah, again, accident rates. Go look them up.

RE: Propperels
By tamalero on 7/13/2014 3:33:38 AM , Rating: 2
I think you should take a small moment to re-read your own reply.

I never imagined a person claiming a tiny quadropter falling from the sky is somehow not dangerous (Even if its small, how heavy will be ? how heavy will the cargo be? what if it falls from pretty high up? )

Maybe they should test the falling quadropters on your head and then you can happily confirm they are not dangerous.

RE: Propperels
By Reclaimer77 on 7/13/2014 8:48:43 AM , Rating: 2
If I had to choose between an Amazon drone falling on me, and getting run over by a delivery truck, hmmmm, tough decision!!

RE: Propperels
By Samus on 7/13/2014 4:59:11 PM , Rating: 2
LOL, all of your facts are moot when you consider a drone is about 20lbs with cargo and a truck is anywhere from 15-25 tons.

So even at maximum velocity, a drone will do no more than break a windshield or knock a pedestrian over. A truck would most likely kill either a vehicle's occupants or pedestrians in even a low-speed collision.

I'd also assume Amazon will have prop insulators (blade protectors) and maybe even encase the drone in lightweight foam (for aerodynamics and safety)

I'd wager many limbs that drone delivery safety will outweigh any other form of delivery method safety we currently have. To think otherwise would take a moron.

The only potential danger drones have to public safety is aircraft intervention, and that's where the FAA needs to set strict guidelines, ie, even during a malfunction, the flight ceiling should be mechanically limited to 500ft and nowhere around airports.

RE: Propperels
By sorry dog on 7/14/2014 12:45:56 PM , Rating: 2
I think a 10-15 pound drone at 50mph can do more than "knock a pedestrian over." It's not hard to think of potentially serious injuries and I'm not talking about blades putting an eye out. Also, remember that if another vehicle is hit then the collision speed may very well be 100 mpg or more. I would not discount this as a rare event as roadways are likely to be used as "airways" to keep them from intruding too much on private property. One thing that will turn public opinion against these is a drone buzzing over their backyard several times a day. Which makes me wonder... if drones are using roadways, how are they going to avoid power lines and overgrown trees. It's going to take more than GPS navigation... maybe visual recognition has come along a lot further than I knew about. If the drones fly any higher than 200 feet then that will put them at risk of man aircraft. I live in a major city and aircraft fly overhead at 500 to 1000 feet every few minutes.

I'm not necessarily anti-drone, but there are tons of questions and problems that need to be sorted out, and I don't want to see other exist rights or institutions taking a back seat (like new rules for GA aircraft) for amazon's benefit.

RE: Propperels
By NovoRei on 7/14/2014 12:52:12 PM , Rating: 2
Samus, are you following Reclaimer's footsteps?

The problem of discussing with the common north-american is that you always go for the fallacy of ad absurdum. And you stick to it.

It's also disappointing to see how much you (the people in general) think of FAA and a disrespect to the millions of hours put by engineers that ensure risk is at an acceptable level.

Food for thought: Can a rock with a weight of 2lbm throw at 20mph be deadly?

What about a free-fall object of 5lbm and initial speed of 50mph?

You don't need a truck.

RE: Propperels
By kmmatney on 7/11/2014 3:51:33 PM , Rating: 2
You can always choose your delivery method. I order a lot of random, not-valuable, items that this would be good for. Obviously you couldn't use it for anything where a signature is required, but for a lot of things, it would work perfectly.

RE: Propperels
By Samus on 7/11/2014 4:48:11 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. Why wouldn't somebody be for this? We're talking 30 minute delivery of virtually anything under 5lbs on Amazon Prime.

Think about it...memory upgrades, baby formula, diapers, stick of butter, toothpaste, coffee creamer, extension cord, even an entire laptop computer\tablet, to your door in 30 minutes for probably $10 shipping. That's what it'd cost me alone in gas to go to a store and get it, while probably taking more than 30 minutes to do, and paying tax on top of it.

We're talking 5lbs here. Unless there is a serious of disasters (which after the program is thoroughly tested, there shouldn't be) I don't see someone hijacking something that likely has cameras, audio recording, and GPS tracking. Do people steal police cars all the time? No, even though they're constantly left unlocked with the keys in the ignition, and sometimes even running.

RE: Propperels
By Jeffk464 on 7/11/2014 6:32:52 PM , Rating: 2
Just imagine the family dog coming to "greet" the UAV

I saw that in an RC forum the guy took his dog with him to fly his RC helicopter. Needless to say not a good combo, the dog tried to catch the helicopter and the rotor blades destroyed its lower jaw.

RE: Propperels
By ShaolinSoccer on 7/14/2014 9:04:37 AM , Rating: 2
Can't they put guards around the blades on these drones? I've seen quite a few with the guards on them.

RE: Propperels
By Jeffk464 on 7/14/2014 5:03:14 PM , Rating: 2
Nope this was a high end RC helicopter (read one main rotor)with carbon fiber blades.

RE: Propperels
By Reclaimer77 on 7/11/2014 2:31:13 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah because a 50,000 pound delivery truck driven by a person is TOTALLY safer!

God you nannys on this drone thing, so annoying. Seriously think it through please.

RE: Propperels
By MoneyisaScam on 7/18/2014 4:40:24 PM , Rating: 2
You could make so much money from capturing the drones.

RE: Propperels
By wookie1 on 7/11/2014 3:49:48 PM , Rating: 2
It would be easy to have propeller guards. Besides, it will dropping off the package on your doorstep not entering your house to chase you down (unless it's taken over by some malware or something). There's no need for a person to get close to it.

Real issue with drones
By wordsworm on 7/12/2014 12:14:27 PM , Rating: 2
I am divided on this issue. On the one hand, I would love to have a drone. I would like to see Amazon do its thing. That's great. But then so will FedEx and all the other companies who deliver packages. Soon the air could be filled with them and there will be a constant buzzing sound. Then you will become complacent about those machines.

As time goes on, groups such as Al Qaeda, will have some of their own. People will weaponize them. The police will own more and more of them until they have eyes everywhere they want them. All of that is bad, bad, and for most of us, bad.

I don't know... what kind of future are we weaving with bringing drones to the main stream. I don't know if there's anything we can do to stop them from taking over and becoming a major part of our daily lives. The best that can be done is to slow it down.

RE: Real issue with drones
By Reclaimer77 on 7/12/2014 12:32:25 PM , Rating: 2
As time goes on, groups such as Al Qaeda, will have some of their own. People will weaponize them. The police will own more and more of them until they have eyes everywhere they want them. All of that is bad, bad, and for most of us, bad.


I guess the terrorists really HAVE won....

RE: Real issue with drones
By wordsworm on 7/12/2014 4:06:56 PM , Rating: 2
Nobody won. Everyone lost.

RE: Real issue with drones
By MoneyisaScam on 7/18/2014 4:41:46 PM , Rating: 2
No one wins at war. There are only the survivors and the dead.

I can't wait!
By pirateair on 7/11/2014 2:56:30 PM , Rating: 2
What a wonderful opportunity! All I need to do is order a $5 widget delivered from Amazon and when it arrives I get a free drone!
I mean, No, sorry I don't know what happened to that drone! Someone stole it and my package which I did not receive.

Luckily Amazon has never been concerned about making money and the loss of a few thousand dollar drones to deliver a widget is no big deal.

RE: I can't wait!
By Reclaimer77 on 7/11/2014 2:58:37 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah because I'm sure it totally wont have GPS tracking, cameras, etc etc on it. /s

RE: I can't wait!
By pirateair on 7/11/2014 5:18:13 PM , Rating: 2
Of course it will have those on it. That will make it even more valuable to steal.
I wear a disguise, throw a blanket over it and disassemble. I will have plenty of time to disable before the next drone, or cop car, arrives looking for it.
Oh wait will they be armed so they can defend themselves?
because after i have my own drone I plan to hunt and take down Amazon drones and steal the packages.

RE: I can't wait!
By marvdmartian on 7/14/2014 8:52:43 AM , Rating: 2
Well, of course they'll be armed! Where do you think the first Terminators will be coming from? Never mind Skynet, watch out for Amazon!

What I'd like to know, is how Amazon is going to get those nifty plastic tubs back? Or is that part of the (no doubt) high price of 30-minute drone delivery? Because I'm pretty certain free 30-minute delivery, via drone, isn't going to be covered by that $100/year Prime membership fee!

By Arsynic on 7/11/2014 1:35:59 PM , Rating: 2
Or will the box include a keycode that must be input to receive the goods?

Too much could go wrong with this.

By Reclaimer77 on 7/11/2014 4:02:17 PM , Rating: 2
I'm confused.

A delivery driver (UPS, FEDEX, etc) leaves the box at your door.

An Amazon drone leaves the box at your door.

What's the flipping difference? Why would you need a keycode box?

By tamalero on 7/13/2014 3:37:05 AM , Rating: 2
The UPS/FEDEX/etc driver is a human that can defend the package at least a bit.

I wonder how easy it will be to intercept a drone.

I'm sure major carriers are thrilled...
By techxx on 7/11/2014 2:46:33 PM , Rating: 2
Can't imagine the big carriers (UPS/USPS/etc) being too excited about this news. This could potentially take a big chunk out of their volume, especially if the drones become capable of carrying more weight over time.

RE: I'm sure major carriers are thrilled...
By Reclaimer77 on 7/11/2014 2:53:25 PM , Rating: 2
Then the major carriers should start looking to compete with drones of their own.

That's the beauty of capitalism: competition.

By MoneyisaScam on 7/18/2014 4:38:54 PM , Rating: 2
There will be capitalists who see the value in the drones. They would capture the drones and recycle for $$$

Sounds like a pretty decent idea. The tricky part is when there is competition for the capture.

Urban areas?
By Brandon Hill on 7/11/2014 3:27:28 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know if anyone has mentioned this, but how would this even work in an urban environment like NYC where everyone lives in high-rises?

Surely apartments aren't going to have dedicated people on staff to watch out for the next drone delivery. At least with UPS/Fedex/USPS, a human can walk through the door and deliver a package to the front desk.

RE: Urban areas?
By wookie1 on 7/11/2014 3:46:28 PM , Rating: 2
They could have a drone drop-off pad on the roof!

RE: Urban areas?
By Murloc on 7/11/2014 3:51:31 PM , Rating: 2
maybe some closet open on the top where the drone can fly in and drop the stuff?
Then only the concierge has a key to open the closet.

I can already imagine the gypsies holding each other by the feet or waiting for the drone with a bat though.

Yeah this stuff is definitely too futuristic for now.

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