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Amazon Drones: Bombs Away

While the federal government struggles to build a functioning website, online retailer Amazon is preparing a fleet of unmanned aerial drones to deliver packages to customers roughly thirty minutes after orders are placed online. All the company is waiting on? The government – specifically the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which…

While the federal government struggles to build a functioning website, online retailer Amazon is preparing a fleet of unmanned aerial drones to deliver packages to customers roughly thirty minutes after orders are placed online.

All the company is waiting on? The government – specifically the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is in the process of approving new regulations for the commercial use of drones.

You know, as opposed to their military applications.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled the drone program – dubbed Amazon Prime Air – on CBS’ 60 Minutes. He calls his drones “octocopters.”

Amazon also posted a link to a recent “octocopter” test flight on YouTube.

Take a look …

“From a technology point of view, we’ll be ready to enter commercial operations as soon as the necessary regulations are in place,” the company states on its website. “We hope the FAA’s rules will be in place as early as sometime in 2015. We will be ready at that time.”

Wow …

We’re sure there are all sorts of cultural, safety and security concerns we should be raising right about now … but to be honest we’re still kind of paralyzed by the sheer amazingness of this idea.

“This is both awesome and terrifying,” Toronto software engineer Chris Stark noted, although he worried about “what happens when the drones gain sentience and decide they are unhappy with delivering my packages!”

Others fretted over the job losses associated with such a program … while executives at UPS and FedEx (which make tens of millions of dollars each year delivering Amazon purchases) no doubt crapped their pants.

UPDATE: Oh, look …

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40 comments

euwe max December 2, 2013 at 2:06 am

The gun nuts are gonna go crazy on this stuff.

Yee-HAW! I’m a gonna git me some *free* shee-it! Bam! Bam! Bam!

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The Colonel December 2, 2013 at 11:42 am

Who ever voted you down Euwe has no sense of humor +1

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shifty henry December 3, 2013 at 9:07 am

“How To Win Friends And Influence People” — ???

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euwe max December 3, 2013 at 9:27 am

“Fourth Way” – P.D. Ouspensky

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The Colonel December 2, 2013 at 7:52 am

Can you imagine the lawsuits that will go with this? I can hardly wait for one to come floating down my street….

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TyronesMamaCollards December 2, 2013 at 11:27 am

just make sure it does not capture on film you and your mistress doing the deed around your above ground swimming pool…..

This takes surveillance to a whole new level….

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shifty henry December 2, 2013 at 6:53 pm

You very well could be right. They would be the perfect cover for surveillance. Folks would just look up and ask, “Wonder who’s getting that package?”

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Smirks December 2, 2013 at 8:23 am

You won’t be laughing when Skynet becomes self-aware.

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TontoBubbaGoldstein December 2, 2013 at 8:41 am

Candy-gram for Sarah Connor!

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Nölff December 2, 2013 at 9:16 am

When private companies start doing this, the government drones will just blend in with it.

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shifty henry December 2, 2013 at 9:20 am

And then the next step —
Wife — What’s that strange noise outside?
Husband –Oh, my God! It’s two drones mating in our back yard!

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The Colonel December 2, 2013 at 9:24 am

Wife — No it isn’t, oh my, it’s Big T and our dog!

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TontoBubbaGoldstein December 2, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Big T respectfully requests that you get Fido’s forepaw nails trimmed, you “dumb@$$ liberal-Tarian!”

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FudgePackerAtChocolateMonkey December 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm

You guys quit picking on my Grand Tango. He is tired from eating all of the Santorum out of Lindsey’s ass last night.

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shifty henry December 2, 2013 at 9:28 am

Does the customer get to keep the yellow box? Shifty can think of many uses for them. The video shows delivery to an isolated house. How would it deliver to an apartment complex or a high-rise. And there is no signature needed. And the drone just drops the package and flies away. Provides many opportunities for theft, accidents, and lawsuits for damages. What happens when the drones begin arguing for better hours, vacations, and retirement benefits? This will be a great story to follow.

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TontoBubbaGoldstein December 2, 2013 at 10:20 am

TBG preemptively apologizes for any offense or discomfort caused by this JOKE:

A golfer walks into the clubhouse of the local country club. He tells the golf pro behind the counter that he wants to do 18 and he is going to need a caddy. The golf pro informs him that the country club is running a promotion and if he tries out one of their experimental robot caddies, he can golf for free. The golfer agrees and takes out the robot. While on the golf course the robot caddy tells the golfer the wind speed, distance, even how hard to hit which club. He has the best game of his life.
The next time the golfer goes to the country club, he tells the golf pro that he wants to do 18 holes and that he wants to get one of the robot caddies. He informs the golfer that they don’t have the robot caddies anymore. The golfer, all upset, tells him how great they were and asks him what happened. The golf pro tells him that members were complaining that the sun would reflect of their metallic material and into their eyes.
The golfer asks him why they didn’t just paint the robots black? The golf pro said that they tried this, but the next day, 1 filed a worker’s comp claim, 4 called in sick, 2 didn’t show up at all, 2 were caught smoking weed on the course, and the other 3 robbed the pro shop.

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shifty henry December 3, 2013 at 8:56 am

I bought a dozen golf balls the other day. The clerk asked me if I wanted them gift wrapped. I told him, “No, I’ll drive them home.”

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CorruptionInColumbia December 2, 2013 at 11:11 am

Paint the inside of them pink and cover them with hair and they will be REALLY useful!

:-D

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shifty henry December 2, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Better yet, the packing material in the box could be one of the new Japanese inflatable dolls. The boxes could be color-coded blue or pink to make sure the wrong person didn’t open it by mistake.

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TontoBubbaGoldstein December 2, 2013 at 1:15 pm

We are… There are a bunch of desperate sounding posters on this board.

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The Colonel December 2, 2013 at 12:02 pm

They could always install a Predator style launcher on the thing and shoot the package through your window.

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EJB December 2, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Hey, drop it down the chimney!!!!

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The Colonel December 2, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Sorry, that route is already trademarked…

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EJB December 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm

They might work out a licensing deal. “It’s not personal, it’s business.”

MashPotato December 2, 2013 at 10:02 am

Funny how quickly the gov’t got approval for surveillance and military purposes, but private use as innocent as delivering mail (or pizza or beer in other cases) takes a while. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

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rwwllms December 2, 2013 at 10:25 am

GPS’ can be spoofed and misdirected to the spoofer. Real easy theft.

Find a spot to watch an Amazon fulfillment center and wait for a drone to come out. Take over the drones GPS and direct it to a safe area where an accomplice is waiting. Drop the package for accomplice to take and wait for next one.

Just have the drop zone in an area not associated with you as GPS’ can be tracked.

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EJB December 2, 2013 at 10:32 am

Encrypted communications.

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TontoBubbaGoldstein December 2, 2013 at 10:26 am

Rural teens will shoot ’em. Urban teens will trail them and steal the package. An ever growing subset of lawyers will become “Drone-chasers”. The government will use Amazon drones for it’s own nefarious purposes, etc.

Neat idea in theory, but it won’t fly in the real world.

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EJB December 2, 2013 at 10:36 am

A lot of stuff just gets dropped off now. Nearly everything we get online is dropped off, no thefts. There are areas of course they would refuse to use the drones as they probably now have rules for not dropping off when FedEx or UPS (FedUp, for short) deliver currently. I think the cost basis would be what kills it or severely limits its use.

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EJB December 2, 2013 at 10:31 am

You would have to want whatever they re delivering this way awfully bad because it has got to be expensive. You would have to have a full time operator and I would imagine a single delivery would average approximately an hour. Most all service related industries (auto mechanics, tree removal, yard maintenance, field welders) charge between $65 and $85 per hour. Plus there is maintenance and heliports and communications with air traffic control. Each delivery would be, my guess, $100, probably as much or more than the cost of what you would be buying. This has to be a publicity generating scheme.

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shifty henry December 2, 2013 at 11:25 am

Other hazards: power lines, trees, flocks of birds, and other drones. It would take one operator per drone to its destination. Most likely it could work in rural and isolated areas. It also appears that it could accommodate a larger box.

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The Colonel December 2, 2013 at 11:46 am

I think you could build the UAV with an AI that would get the package set down on a driveway with little to no human intervention – the trick is getting it to put the package on the door step and ring the doorbell!

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shifty henry December 2, 2013 at 12:25 pm

At least youwouldn’t have to worry about the delivery guy going inside and screwing your wife. Well, unless there was a midget in the yellow box….

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easterndumbfuckastan December 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm

My guess is they will likely be mostly autonomous after being given coordinates from the master control computer. GPS hacking can be solved by a combination of encrypted communication and error correcting protocols stating that it if I fly 75mph it takes x minutes to reach y location if I reach y location before such time (give or take 10%) abort the delivery and return to home base. GPS can be calibrated very to precise levels by using a know surveyed bench mark and a calibrated GPS receiver to transmit error correction information the the drones and they will be accurate to with in inches. Terrain and building location data is available that is highly accurate combine that with basic LIDAR like is being installed in some newer cars and I really don’t see navigation being a problem. Being these are vertical take-off and landing drones, they will likely take off from an Amazon Facility, ascend to several thousand feet above ground level and travel to their destination. After arrival they will descend several thousand feet, drop their payload and head home. They can communicate with other aircraft and the tower by squaking a special code and by utilizing ACARS to receive traffic information if necessary. I’m sure there will be human operators in case of an emergency or if an exception occurs in flight, but my guess is it will be around one operator per 30 to 50 aircraft. The major cost here will be fuel cost and maintenance after the initial investment. For the consumer the cost will likely be 10% to 20% over the cost of overnight delivery initially but that will come down over time.

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Centrist View December 2, 2013 at 11:36 am

Might be a problem in Deer Trail, Colorado

Colorado man offering drone hunting lessons in Deer Trail
Also designed license to “hunt and kill drones operating within the sovereign airspace of the town of Deer Trail.”

http://www.upi.com/Odd_News/Blog/2013/12/02/Colorado-man-offering-drone-hunting-lessons-in-Deer-Trail/8261385993846/

Dec. 2 (UPI) — Residents of Deer Trail, Colo., may soon be engaging in drone-hunting activities that may irk some Amazon executives.

Self-described drone killer Phil Steel wrote an ordinance making it legal to hunt drones within the town’s limits and he is currently offering lessons to anyone who is interested.

In order to simulate drone activity, Steel uses dozens of Estes rockets. As part of his plan, he has created novelty licenses to “hunt and kill drones operating within the sovereign airspace of the town of Deer Trail.” Almost one thousand people have applied for the license.

The issue of whether Deer Trail should sell licenses to hunt drones first went before the town board in August. It specifically lays out limitations like restricting shooting to daylight hours and only allowing the shooting of unmanned aerial vehicles flying lower than 1,000 feet over private property.

The town votes on the ordinance, Dec. 10.
==========================================================

Deer Trail vote on drone hunting licenses rescheduled for Dec. 10
http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_24266506/deer-trail-vote-drone-hunting-licences-rescheduled-dec

The town of Deer
Trail has rescheduled the special election during which voters will decide whether the town should sell licenses to hunt drones.

The town board of six was evenly split on the ordinance when it took up the issue in August, so it forwarded the decision to voters.

Originally, the election was scheduled for Tuesday, but it was moved because the date was too close to the Nov. 5 general election, Mayor Frank Fields said.

The election is now scheduled for Dec. 10.

The ordinance, which was first introduced by a resident after media reports about increased government surveillance using unmanned aircraft, would require the town to issue $25 licenses to any applicant able to read and understand English.

The ordinance includes rules, including limiting shooting to daylight hours and allowing shooting only of unmanned aerial vehicles flying lower than 1,000 feet over private property.

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EJB December 2, 2013 at 12:29 pm Reply
I Got your Package Right Here December 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm

MommaT: Grand Tango, your skimpy red, white and blue panties are here!
Grand Tango: Thanks, Mommy!

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Ernie December 2, 2013 at 10:25 pm

It would have to land in a secure area or some kid might throw a football at it. Vandalism would wipe out all the drones in less than a week.

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The Colonel December 3, 2013 at 6:54 am

My .22 would wipe out all the ones flying down my street anyway

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The Colonel December 3, 2013 at 5:50 am

I have come to the conclusion that this whole thing is nothing but a publicity stunt.

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