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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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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.

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