With apologies to a certain delightful movie from yesteryear, “The Drones Are Coming! The Drones Are Coming!” Well, yes they are. And no they’re not. No matter how you shake out flying drone deliveries, it’s a gimmick that will not make it to prime time. Except news.
Amazon just launched their first Amazon Prime Air delivery by drone. In the U.K. Not in the U.S. There’s a good reason for that. No guns in the U.K. and different regulations than in the U.S. where drones must, for now, remain within sight of the controller. What’s cool about Amazon’s first drone deliver is that it was fully autonomous. It took just 13 minutes to deliver the package from end to end.
Amazon set up a drone delivery operation near an Amazon facility in the U.K. Sounds interesting, no? What’s more interesting are all the caveats that exist now and those that will exist should a trial ever expand to the U.S.
First, deliveries can only be made during daylight hours, on days with little wind, only when there is good visibility, and the drones must fly under 400 feet, and they can only handle packages up to five pounds.
Amazon sells plenty of gadgets that weigh less than that, so why doesn’t Apple get itself into the drone delivery business? After all, every major Mall in the good old U.S. of A. has an Apple Store, which seemingly would make for a good drone launching platform.
Drive around the Mail to the Apple Store’s backdoor and you could see drones flying away, one after the other to deliver iPhones, iPads, Watch, and even new MacBooks, not to mention accessories, gift cards, Watch bands, and, who knows; maybe even drones as gifts.
Drone delivery is a gimmick; wonderful for press releases, great for YouTube videos that show how advanced Amazon’s technology is, but don’t count on Apple having drones take off and land from the nearest Mall. It won’t happen.
Changing weather conditions alone should tell you this is a really, really dumb idea that is far more gimmick than future. Looks cool. Can be done. Drone deliveries won’t happen for the masses. Birds attack drones. Other drones attack drones. Americans love our 2nd amendment rights and one of them is the option to shoot down drones that fly over or near our homes with the obvious intent of spying on us (you can’t read that Amazon logo 400 feet away).
Apple won’t do drone deliveries because Apple is a smart company and knows the customer experience is paramount. Standing on the front porch in the blistering sun or winter weather and waiting for an Amazon delivery that does not make it to the front door is not what Apple’s customers expect or will tolerate.
Sure, there will be laws against attacking drones but that won’t stop people from using drones to attack the delivery in-flight, and carrying off as prey an iPhone or MacBook while the blip falls off the radar. Even if a delivery drone makes it to the house and survives attacks by birds who don’t like the flying competition, neighborhood dogs and cats and even kids will take great joy bringing the flying beast to a stop and dragging it into the brush.
If these flying beasts of burden make it to suburban Atlanta, color me wrong and put some egg on my face. Pigs will fly first.