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What, just a story to make sure Amazon dominates the media on Cyber Monday? I'd say your analysis is bang on.

The lesson to learn here, folks, is that this is one of those themes that just keeps on giving. Any time you need some quick publicity, reach for a drone...

The fact that it's very obviously timed to give a PR boost doesn't mean it's fake. They may very well be working on this, hoping that it succeeds, and looking for a PR boost.

In fact, given that they were working on it, one would expect them to announce it when it would give the most positive buzz possible.

You sure get an award for being optimistic, but I shall have to take away any certification you may have for being realistic.

The smoking gun on this is announcing a new service on a Sunday evening. No-one does that. Unless, say, it happens to be Cyber Monday the next day.

This is exciting but a little too early for its time. Four months early to be specific.

So, in other words, you think that they're outright lying about doing any development?

Nope they are delusional about the 2015 timeline they talk about on their website

Helicopters (used for media coverage, passenger transport and medical emergency) provide the perfect template for the Aviation Authority and Amazon to base a framework of operation on.

The main considerations will be:

- Set routes/paths the drones must follow, taking I to account altitudes that minimise traffic with other things high up (buildings, aircraft, UFOs) - emergency procedures and a risk assessment for each foreseeable eventuality (not that hard considering the lack of other traffic 'up there') - limits on the amount of drones in the air within constrained geographic localities.

It is likely that this could all be agreed for a single trial city well before 2015 rolls around. This isn't rocket science...

I don't know about America but in the UK aviation authorities already permit flying models [1] and aerial work such as photography if certain requirements are met [2]. Regulators are understandably keen on collision avoidance, so they usually say UAVs must stay within the operator's line of sight - or have a 'sense and avoid' system. The UK's CAA "is not currently aware of any Sense-and-Avoid system with adequate performance and reliability" [3]

So, that's the regulatory challenge. Need to sense and avoid obstacles and other aircraft, and do a good enough job of it that aviation authorities will sign off on it.

(In addition to the regulatory challenge, there may also be business, operational and engineering challenges.)

[1] http://www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?catid=1416&pageid=8153 [2] http://www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?catid=1995&pageid=11213 [3] http://www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?catid=1995&pageid=11186

Am I in the minority in thinking this is fantastic marketing? If you were Amazon, why wouldn't you leverage an interesting R&D project on the eve of your biggest day of the year? Regardless of how pie-in-the-sky this might be, I don't understand all the cynicism.

Worked great for Obama :)

And of course the counter-story:

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1144377 (page 5+ is most interesting)

These are injuries caused by helicopters, drones, quadcopters etc. I don't want that shit floating around me. They are seriously dangerous bits of kit. Yes I know the "versus cars" argument but cars don't intentionally fall out of the sky on you and have roads to go on.

Drones don't intentionally fall "on you" either. By the numbers cars are probably the second most dangerous thing you interact with day-to-day (cheeseburgers being the first). Safe travel - especially safe failure - is obviously an important concern, but can we at least bring up some rational evaluation?

Well they fail to prevent falling on you very well as the link shows. A lot of the accidents are from spurious behaviour and unrecoverable flight profiles.

I can't help but growl QUAD DAMAGE!! reading those forum posts. Ouch.

When regs do come out they will most likely have to stay over roads and can't just cut through someones yard.

When it fails an air bladder will inflate minimizing the speed and force that it lands. Like, http://www.hovding.com/en/how_it_works/

Motors will have a lockout that stops it from spinning when it comes into contact with flesh. http://www.sawstop.com

This technology is way more than 2 years off. The FAA isn't just going to print out a pamphlet and say everything is OK. Machines are dangerous and nothing I see in any of the latest tech even comes close to the reliability or safety that will be necessary.

Lord knows there's no use for an automobile, when you consider the danger it poses compared to the reliable horse.

If we had flying cars with chainsaws at each corner, I'd agree.

It's totally worth it. just force them to be computer controlled when flying low altitude in densely populated areas.

Computers are controlled by programs written by humans.



The list goes on...

Those companies are very different from Amazon.

Sure, but I'm into politics, so I've learned to judge by results rather than claims and reputation.

And there isn't a drone on my doorstep yet.

If there ever will be one, someone needs to announce it first. And if the timing is commercially interesting for Amazon, that just reflect the fact that Amazon is a company with financial intereste, just like any other company.

what's even more exciting to me is that they could develop their own complete distribution system by pushing cheap drones out to the edge of their network.


with barely any people in the entire process to slow things down and make it expensive.

Either that, or disruptive innovation that media has picked up.

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