You're probably sick of this news already, but Amazon says they're working on 30-minute package delivery by drone.
The goal of this new delivery system is to get packages into customers' hands in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles.
Putting Prime Air into commercial use will take some number of years as we advance the technology and wait for the necessary FAA rules and regulations.
Back in January, riffing off a piece by John Robb, I speculated that Amazon would be an early mover into delivery-by-drone:
More likely that Amazon will buy a fledgling drone delivery company in the next year or two and begin rolling out same-day delivery of items weighing less than 2 pounds in non-urban areas where drone flights are permitted.
Tyler Cowen is already out of the gate this morning talking about the economics of drone delivery:
You would buy smaller size packages and keep smaller libraries at home and in your office. Bookshelf space would be freed up, you would cook more with freshly ground spices, the physical world would stand a better chance of competing with the rapid-delivery virtual world, and Amazon Kindles would decline in value.
But for now, Amazon Prime Air sure is providing lots of Cyber Monday PR for Amazon.
Looks like someone lost their drone in the West Village:
Pretty sure that drones falling from the skies in heavily populated metropolitan areas is going to lead to banning.
Designer Adam Harvey, who gave the world the anti-paparazzi purse and dazzle camouflage for the face, has developed a hoodie that makes the wearer invisible to the sort of thermal imaging utilized by surveillance drones.
This is the most New Aesthetic thing I have ever seen. The Guardian has more:
"These are primarily fashion items and art items," Harvey tells me. "I'm not trying to make products for survivalists. I would like to introduce this idea to people: that surveillance is not bulletproof. That there are ways to interact with it and there are ways to aestheticise it."
I imagine that at some point, anti-drone clothing will eject chaff as a countermeasure against incoming drone-launched missiles. (via @DavidGrann)
John Robb imagines a drone delivery service that will replace UPS, FedEx, the USPS, bicycle messengers, Kozmo-type services, etc. in the short-hop delivery of small items.
Here's a simplified version of what I'm talking about:
1. I put package onto a landing pad at my home.
2. Drone arrives, takes package and flies away.
3. Drone delivers package to landing pad at delivery location.
There's almost nothing technically in the way of this happening right now. Here's how it would work in practice:
- My brother left his iphone at my house. I want to get it to him, but he lives 30 mi away (as the crow flies, 50 by driving).
- I put it into a delivery container and put it on a small landing pad outside my home.
- I order a drone on my phone and put the ID of the container into the order (I could just as easily use a drone I buy to do it P2P).
- A drone arrives 10 minutes later, picks up the container automatically.
- After a couple of hops, it arrives at my brother's landing pad, where it drops off the container and alerts him with an e-mail/text.
- Costs? Probably less than $0.25 per 10 mi. or so. So, about $0.75 in this instance. Time? An hour or so.
This is a compelling idea but I doubt it'll happen in a decentralized way. More likely that Amazon will buy a fledgling drone delivery company in the next year or two and begin rolling out same-day delivery of items weighing less than 2 pounds in non-urban areas where drone flights are permitted. Unless the FAA or Homeland Security gets in the way, which they might. But if not, Wal-Mart, Target, and everyone else will follow suit, including (likely too late) FedEx and UPS.