When I first heard about Amazon’s unveiling of “Prime Air” over the weekend, an awkward high school memory soon resurfaced. Let’s just say I was standing out at lunch one afternoon and somewhere above me there was a seagull who had apparently already eaten his.
The gist: Prime Air delivery service aims to have packages of up to five pounds delivered to addresses within 10 miles of an Amazon fulfillment center within 30 minutes. As the video below so matter-of-factly demonstrates, the system will utilize “quadcopter” drones to offer shoppers a more expeditious front door service.
Admittedly, watching this video is like watching a video on teleportation: it’s intended to show how simple the option is without addressing the ambitions of its creation. Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos did give us more insight in his recent 60 Minutes interview, assuring the general public that Prime Air
will be ready in time for the FAA’s widened approval of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), which my brief research shows can be as early as the next two or three years. Bezos also talked about the feasibility of the technology itself, going on to mention that many of Amazon’s current warehouses are entirely automated under the use of robot workers.
Television shows such as The Jetsons will always be used as a lens into “the future,” but with the reality of something like Prime Air, we can taste it. Bezos, along with the Elon Musks of the world, are innovating and steadily bringing the fictional world of 2065 to the more foreseeable future.
But my monologue aside, Bezos still ain’t got the answers. Even with the technology and political regulations available, the practicality of little birdy drones dropping off your Karmaloop package is hardly as neat as the idea itself. First of all, where does the guy in the video even live? It sure as hell isn’t LA, NYC, or any other thriving consumerist city.
Let’s put this dude in the Bronx or in downtown San Francisco instead. I envision the video more closely resembling a Playstation 4 advertisement with thousands of quadcopters blackening the cities’ skylines in a cluster fuck attempt to delivery packages to modern shoppers. There are kids with rocks and thieves with more clever
tools hoping to knock down an early birthday gift for a girlfriend or maybe that pair of new Air Jordans that some unlucky kid bought for 3 times the retail price. Getting shit on by a bird becomes the
last thing people are worried about, it’s that iPad Air plummeting from 100 feet above.
If you’ve ever been pissed at the UPS guy for leaving your package in plain sight for anyone to steal, the near future might find your goodies literally falling into the
wrong hands or windshield.
It’s nice to be living in a time when technological advances are so mundane that arguments against airborne delivery robots are primarily practical, but I can only hope that Amazon isn’t just blowing hot air with this one. We’ll see. The concept is definitely dope, but the consequences seem to be a real headache.