Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) Vice President for global public policy, Paul Misener has said that their delivery drones will be “more like horses than cars.” By this statement (which he said in an interview with Yahoo! Inc), he means that the drones will avoid objects/structures that could cause damage to them e.g. buildings, trees or lampposts. They will not be physically or aesthetically similar to horses in any way.
In the interview with Yahoo! Inc, he further elaborated, by explaining that you could easily crash your car (on purpose) into a tree. If you tried to do the same thing with a horse, it would be much more difficult; as the horse would try and avoid / navigate away from the tree (the horse would try and go around it.)
He said that Amazon’s prototype drones have a “sense and avoid” function which always them to navigate themselves away from structures that could damage them. This function is likely to have cost Amazon.com a fortune to develop, but it will save the firm a lot of money in the long run (as their drones won’t need to be repaired very often due to damage sustained from delivering goods etc.)
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Amazon.com is working on several different variations/models of the prototype drone. Paul Misener said that the different drones will be used for deliveries in different locations, with vary conditions etc. He gave the examples of Phoenix being a “hot, dry and dusty area” and Orlando having a “hot, wet, rainy environment”. He also talked about how different properties (a farmhouse or a penthouse) may require different drones for successful delivery.
Amazon.com had an excellent year in 2015, and they are looking to keep the momentum going into 2016 and the years to come. They are trying increase demand for their products by offering innovative new services that can direct consumers away from their competitors, towards them. The drones are not expected to enter service anytime soon, with a lot of development to go. There may also be concerns regarding the safety of the drones (this will be more of an issue in city centers than in rural, sparsely populated areas.)
The fact that the drones may replace workers and make them redundant is likely to be a sensitive issue. But machinery is replacing labor in several industries, and we can only expect our reliance on technology and machinery to increase as time goes on.
Another issue for Amazon to consider is the potential theft of packages. The drones could potentially be shot down. Misener dismissed the suggestion, saying that “I guess they could shoot at trucks too.” But in reality, a drone is a much easier target. Furthermore, the charges for shooting down a drone are likely to be much less serious than the charges for shooting at a truck with a driver in it etc. There are many concerns regarding the Amazon Prime Air program, but Misener believes that it will be normal to see drones flying and carrying parcels in the future.