Amazon Wants a slice of US Airspace for Drones

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by bradl, Aug 3, 2015.

  1. bradl macrumors 68040

    bradl

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    #1
    Piggybacking off of the incident where a man claimed the right to privacy for shooting down a drone, Amazon has created its own little fray by suggesting that the government should designate a shelf of airspace solely for commercial drone use.

    CNET picks it up from here:

    http://www.cnet.com/news/amazon-proposes-slice-of-sky-designated-for-commercial-drones/

    Apparently, Amazon doesn't know the requirements for Class B or Class C airspace, either. But like entities like Uber, they must think that because they are Amazon, those regulations and requirements do not apply to them.

    BL.
     
  2. shinji macrumors 65816

    shinji

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    #2
    Commercial drones are part of shipping's future, whether bureaucrats are ready for it or not. Hopefully Amazon is successful.
     
  3. bradl thread starter macrumors 68040

    bradl

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    #3
    Are the drones going to be equipped with the proper equipment to fly in Class B or C airspace? most major cities fall under that airspace classification. As also mentioned by myself and quagmire in the other thread, such airspace starts at SFC (surface) and goes up to a certain altitude, in which a Mode C-capable transponder is required, as well as 2-way radio communications. And, in the case of Class B, explicit clearance into and out of it is required. And I haven't even brought up the argument of TFRs or living underneath restricted airspace.

    It isn't as easy as Amazon thinks it is, nor should it.

    BL.
     
  4. shinji macrumors 65816

    shinji

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    #4
    I'm sure it's quite difficult, but what I took from your article is that they're trying to change the regulations to accommodate commercial drone airspace. Amazon's expertise in logistics puts them in a perfect place to pioneer the whole thing.
     
  5. juanm macrumors 65816

    juanm

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    #5
    Wouldn't it possible to develop a new generation of beacons and let software decide routing?

    For instance, before each flight, they are assigned a path from an automated "control tower", and won't take off until they have it. In flight, the beacon would transmit every few seconds its position to make sure it follows the established path.
     
  6. vrDrew macrumors 65816

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    #6


    Amazon is blowing smoke on this. Quad/Hexacopters simply don't have the range/lift capacity envelope to be practical delivery machines.

    And how is an Amazon drone going to actually complete the delivery of the package? You, ring the doorbell, and wait for someone to come sign for it. Or does Amazon think it can just drop boxes on the sidewalk outside apartment buildings?

    I see a bright commercial future for UAVs. But not as flying delivery trucks - except in very unique circumstances. People living on islands, or trapped by rising floodwaters, etc.
     
  7. shinji macrumors 65816

    shinji

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    #7
    Most of my orders from Amazon end up on my apartment's doormat without requiring a signature. I get a text when the package is delivered, which is what they'd ostensibly do with drone deliveries.

    People who live in areas where packages are likely to be stolen if left outside unattended have the same issue they have now with normal couriers. Amazon isn't suggesting PrimeAir will apply to every delivery from here on out.

    Really not sure why some of you think Amazon's plan is so far-fetched, as if they're not aware of the technical demands, or that the regulations can't be changed for new technology.
     
  8. chown33 macrumors 604

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    Aug 9, 2009
    #8
    I'm left wondering about the details of this "centralized computer systems", and the various ways it could be exploited, either for mere disruption, or specifically to capture the flying loot airborne cargo.

    If it's open-access, it can suffer a DoS attack, preventing drones from flying, or causing an emergency landing. It can also be spoofed (think "fake drones") to cause real drones to divert or fail, effectively a digital air blockade. That's just two off the top of my head.

    If it's restricted-access, then drone owners must be authenticated, registered, and identified within in the system. That requires a registration and authentication procedure. The computer(s) can still be DoS'ed, but the authentication cuts down on spoofing.

    It also seems a bit odd to me that Amazon's proposing centralized control instead of free flight:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_flight_(air_traffic_control)
     
  9. c55 macrumors regular

    c55

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    #9
    This is going to be extremely limited just because how "drones" are today. They won't get over 15 minutes of battery life hauling a package. Nothing over a pound or two either. We need technology to progress quite a bit farther for Amazon's dream to become actually useful and not just a gimmick. And the whole legal side is a mess, but I won't get into that.

    One positive thing is that drones are not able to be hacked. They are designed to have a failsafe that flies them right back to where they took off if any disturbance is found. If their frequency is interfered with they will just turn around and go home. And no one can hack into the system that "controls" the drones because the drones are controlled by themselves (autonomous). GPS coordinates are entered and it takes off. The camera could possibly be hacked, but that won't affect anything. I would immediately "go home" at a specified height. The absolute only way to get one to crash would be to shoot it/break props. Even then, they have compasses and gps that try to correct the movements even when a prop fails.
     
  10. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #10
    Where I live packages left outside are likely to be stolen but packages left in the communal hallway are unlikely to be stolen. That said they usually leave them with a neighbour.
     
  11. aaronvan Suspended

    aaronvan

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    #11
    While it might not be feasible as of yet, I applaud Amazon for their forward-thinking.

    SpaceX, Uber, AirBnB, etc, are all amazing. We live in a New Golden Age of Capitalist Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
     
  12. bradl thread starter macrumors 68040

    bradl

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    #12
    Not at the risk of your privacy.

    From the Hillview thread:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/gregory...down-a-drone-will-land-you-in-federal-prison/

    Seeing that Amazon wants a buffer between 200 and 500ft AGL, they would essentially violate your 4th Amendment right to privacy. Are you sure that you want to welcome their, as you put it, 'capitalist innovation'?

    BL.
     
  13. vrDrew macrumors 65816

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    #13
    Forward thinking is great and to be applauded.

    But I think it needs to be tempered with reality. And the recognition that, when it comes to aerospace in general; dreams of the future frequently come crashing down in the face of fundamental laws of physics; safety; and economics.

    I remember the excitement of the moon-landing and being told how soon we'd be sending explorers to Mars; and have a permanent base on the lunar surface. Almost half a century later we are no closer. I look at the museum-piece Concord SST, and realize that commercial civilian supersonic travel will probably never happen again.

    I also look at the UPS and FedEx vehicles that currently make deliveries in my (and probably your) neighborhood. And I recognize that - humble as they might look on the outside - they too are products of an incredible amount of technological innovation and scientific engineering. GPS systems that let them navigate the most baffling city grids and treeless deserts. High-efficiency diesel and hybrid power packs. Lightweight composite body panel. Routing software that can instantly figure out the most efficient itinerary - and instantly update it to take into account traffic blockages.

    I also look at the men and women who drive those vehicles. Products both of a bold and forward-thinking
    entrepreneurial system: UPS drivers, well paid union members. FedEx drivers independent contractors. But both of whom operate with an incredible record of safety; courtesy; and efficiency. Even the US Postal Service has gotten into the act: It provides Sunday deliveries for Amazon in my area.

    I'm personally very enthusiastic about the future of UAVs to provide a wealth of as-yet undreamed of functions. But I wouldn't count those FedEx trucks (and drivers) out of the picture for a very long time indeed. If ever.
     
  14. FieldingMellish Suspended

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    Jun 20, 2010
    #14
    Drone space would indeed uglify the airspace. Similar to early scenes in the sci-fy comedy Fifth Element, with its busy rush hour air traffic.

    This is a modern equivalent to when they electrified cities and communities with wired utility poles - a major change across the landscape.
     
  15. vrDrew macrumors 65816

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    #15
    One of the things many advocates of the "drone-as-delivery system" idea don't clarify is this:

    Do they anticipate that the Amazon UAV that makes a delivery to your home be totally autonomous? With no human pilot or monitor sitting back at base someplace, watching and directing its motions? Or do they see Amazon as creating essentially civilian rotorcraft versions of the sort of remotely-operated UAVs our military has deployed so widely in recent years.

    Because its an important question to consider.

    The primary considerations when choosing a components of any logistics system are these: Cost; reliability; and speed. If the maker of a cargo drone can overcome the technical and legal challenges in building a rotorcraft delivery system, in order to sell it to Amazon (either internally, or as an outside supplier) it has to offer some advantage over the systems presently in use.

    Right now, the standard for FedEx and UPS drivers operating in an urban US market is approximately 150 "stops" or deliveries each day. The human (labor hour) cost of each delivery roughly works out to about three minutes of his or her time.

    Does it seem likely that a battery-powered UAV rotorcraft (with a maximum airspeed of roughly 30 mph) would be capable of making 150 round-trip journeys, within a radius of say five to ten miles, within the course of an eight or ten hour day? I'll save you the math. It couldn't possibly do it. It would be lucky to do one tenth as many.

    Which means that, in order to be competitive with the UPS and FedEx truck, the UAV now has to do one of two things: It has to either be able to operate completely autonomously. Or it needs to be able to make multiple deliveries on a single journey. Meaning that instead of a ~ 20-30 lb. flying machine buzzing over our subdivisions and playgrounds - instead we've got a 200-300 lb monster roaring overhead.

    Count me skeptical Amazon drones ever become much more than a niche, or publicity stunt.
     
  16. aaronvan Suspended

    aaronvan

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    #16
    I doubt drone delivery is viable for residential orders. Never mind the air space issues, I don't see it being economically competitive. However, it might prove valuable for certain edge cases that we haven't considered yet. Say organ delivery or other high-cost, time-sensitive deliveries. I think Amazon is just trying to maturate the technology.
     
  17. LIVEFRMNYC macrumors 603

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    Oct 27, 2009
    #17
    Distant future .....

    Everyone has their own personal drones. When we want delivery of something fast and small enough. We send our drones to Amazon(or other company) and it comes back with our shipment.
     
  18. FieldingMellish Suspended

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    Jun 20, 2010
    #18

    Remember how gaming and sex led to maturing internet and computerized entertainment ?

    Vice and drug delivery will lead the way for drone activity in that realm.

    A new report surfaced on a special delivery descending into a penitentiary yard, causing a near riot.

    http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/04/us/prison-yard-drone-drugs-ohio/
     

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