Is this The Jetsons? | Planet Ryan - Republic-Times | News

Is this The Jetsons? | Planet Ryan

By on December 11, 2013 at 9:02 am

Before I go to sleep at night, I usually check emails and other messages on my phone. I also flick through all the news feeds, including Facebook, to see what’s happening in the world. Last night, as I was getting ready to enter the first stage of sleep, I saw someone posted a link about Amazon.com’s bold new “Prime Air Delivery” service – where mini-drones could deliver a package to your doorstep within 30 minutes of your order.

I chuckled to myself, and even though it was being reported on a major news website, I still thought it was some kind of prank or joke or marketing ploy, and I went to bed – dreaming of the day when we have little delivery drones buzzing around us like something you would see in The Jetsons.

It appears this was not a prank whatsoever. When I woke up Monday morning, it was quickly becoming the hottest topic of the year. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, is dead serious about delivering packages via mini “octocopter” drones as soon as 2015, when the FAA might give first approvals for this type of commercial, unmanned drone activity.

After reading a dozen articles about it and watching the video which shows an Amazon drone gently setting down on the porch of a nice home, dropping off a shoebox-sized package, I nearly fell out of my seat with excitement and awe. Are we here? Are we just around the corner from a future like we’ve only seen in the movies?

Then the negative aspects of the service started to cross my mind. Will people shoot these down out of the sky for fun? Will one of these drones with eight high-speed propeller blades accidentally bump into a small child in the front yard while dropping off a package? After all, Amazon plans on these machines being autonomous, meaning they will not be piloted by anyone and will use advanced GPS technology for operations.

No doubt about it – I think this is the biggest announcement of the year. This could be an absolute game-changer in the retail industry. Talk is already resurfacing about Dominos Pizza’s test-run of a pizza-delivery drone, successfully carried out in Britain earlier this year. If Amazon pulls this off, after working out the plethora of safety and privacy issues, who is to say other large companies won’t deploy drones in the same or similar capacities? Fed Ex, UPS, Macy’s?

This could get interesting. At the soonest, we’re several years away from this actually happening, but that’s only because Amazon is waiting on the FAA to draft the first set of commercial drone rules and regulations.

Mark my words right now in this very column – within 10 years, we will probably look back at this announcement and wonder how we ever got by without this technology.


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Ryan Ledendecker

Ryan is a biweekly columnist for the Republic-Times newspaper. When he's not working, he enjoys a good movie, bass fishing, and CrossFit.