Amazon Prime Drones: 5 Critical Problems to Fix

amazon prime drones

Can Amazon Drone Delivery Really Work?

Hey there!  Have you heard  Amazon is developing their “Prime Air Service” to deliver small packages by drone?  Amazon’s future vision of drone package delivery is: “one day, seeing Amazon prime drones buzzing around delivering packages will be as routine as seeing mail trucks on the road.”

Amazon released this video teaser, showing how the delivery system will work. The charming host is none other than Jeremy Clarkson, the Ex-Top Gear Host.

Watch this!

Though Amazon is running delivery testing in the US, UK, and Israel, they are a long way off from actually making this a working system.  Here are five critical problems that need to be overcome before this service can become a reality:

Problem #1:  Safety Concerns

Reliability:

What if the delivery drone’s power system malfunctions and drops out of the sky?  Though Amazon says they are experimenting with different styles of delivery drones, the hybrid drone in the video weighs up to 55 pounds. That’s a hefty chunk of hardware to come crashing down on property or people. The delivery system will need to undergo rigorous testing to make sure it’s as reliable or better than the delivery systems we have today. Perhaps a drone emergency parachute might be a good idea.

Emergency Response Aircraft:  

How will delivery drones avoid emergency response aircraft, like life flight helicopters? As an emergency response pilot flies to pick up someone to
save their life, nearby delivery drones crossing the flight path would have to give the emergency aircraft priority to avoid collisions (especially densely populated areas)!

Would the delivery drones simply return back to the Amazon warehouse base, or would they have enough battery flight time to take a safe detour path around the accident scene?

And hey, if I don’t’ receive my package because of an air traffic jam, do I get a 30 minute delivery time guarantee from Amazon?

amazon prime drones

Problem #2:  Air Traffic

Speaking of air traffic, today’s systems will need a complete overhaul to allow instant communication among delivery drones and conventional aircraft. To avoid mid-air collisions, Amazon has already proposed 2 levels of critical technologies to be developed:

  • One technology is called “vehicle-to-vehicle” communications (V2V), meaning all aircraft are brought together on command and control networks with an internet connection. This allows any vehicle on the network to communicate with another on the network, to create awareness and maintain separation.
  • The other technology is “sense-and-avoid” (SAA), which relies on on-board sensors to navigate around real world objects (like birds and balloons shown in the video above).
 Altitude Bands – Amazon’s “Solution”

Amazon is proposing a model defining new “altitude bands.” These altitude bands would segregate the civil airspace to below 400 ft, and keep all current aviation operations above 500 ft. A 100 ft permanent “no-fly” buffer zone would buffer the 2 major air spaces.

The civil airspace would be further divided:

  • A High Speed Transit Zone (200 ft to 400 ft).  The high speed transit zone would be reserved for designated “well-equipped” vehicles as determined by the relevant performance standards and rules (to be developed).  In other words, Amazon and other UAS delivery services carve out their own designated airspace.
  • A Low Speed Zone below 200 ft would be reserved for civilian and hobbyist radio controlled flights.

amazon drone service

Current US rules allow drone hobbyists to fly up to 400 ft altitude without any special permission. If this proposal becomes actual regulation, it will be interesting to see how peeved the average remote control UAV hobbyist feel about losing this much airspace to delivery services like Amazon or Google under this model.

When Will This Happen?

Presently, drone technology has outpaced current laws, and lawmakers need to catch up. Given the speed of government, nobody knows how long this will take. Until then, Amazon deliver drones will be limited to testing.

private drone regulations

 Problem #3:  Weight limits

Weight limits will be capped at 5 pounds. So ordering a couch by drone delivery won’t happen.  This would keep at lest some of ground parcel delivery guys and gals employed.

 Problem #4:  Service Location

The delivery drones can travel up to 15 miles.  So this means you would have to live within 7 miles of an Amazon distribution center to get this service. As drone battery technology improves, this may extend the range. This basically leaves remote or rural customers out of the service area, unless of course Amazon builds more warehouses.

Hmm, maybe in the future, Amazon would work a deal to store their inventory at Walmarts, who are already just about there!

 Problem #5:  Vandalism

The you tube comments for this video are interesting. Roughly half of them were about people wanting to either shooting down the down the drone, or steal it. One guy from the UK said due to their gun control laws, vandals would “probably just throw rocks”.  For some of us, it’s human nature to shoot something new that we don’t understand.  Like the Kentucky dad, who was arrested (and later acquitted) of shooting down a drone he thought was spying on his sunbathing teenage daughter?

is it illegal to shoot down a drone

For a minute though, let’s rise above the primal tendency to destroy, because there’s a good question here.  How will these delivery drones be safeguarded to ensure packages actually get delivered?

It makes no business sense for Amazon to fund drone delivery if they’re not returning home.

Eventually delivery drones may become so common that they blend into our daily lives like a common mail or parcel delivery truck. But until then, will the trigger happy members of the public really start downing delivery drones enough to make the service impractical?

Drone Hackers

And what about hackers? Could they hijack the navigation control signals and land them in their own yard to get the Amazon goodies inside?  You bet – in fact, hackers are already doing this, and it’s really not that hard. Who gets stuck paying for that?

Final Thoughts

I admit, the convenience of drone delivery service is really attractive.  Hey, my grandpa is 83 years old, and still drives out of principle – even though he really shouldn’t.  Bless his heart.

Believe this:  if this kind of technology helps save him a few trips to the store, while retaining his dignity, we all win!

olddriver

How soon do you think Amazon drone delivery will happen? What other problems did I miss?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!


Other Related Posts:

image 1 source

image 2 source

image 3 source

Drone Camera Reveals Alarming Greenland Ice Melt

Up Close View Of Earth’s Climate Change From Drone Camera

There is very little on-the-ground data that researchers have to show how fast the earth’s polar ice melt is happening.

This mission of this recent expedition was to collect actual data to help scientists better understand how fast the ice is melting, and predict rising sea levels.

While there, NY Times staff member Josh Haner was able to capture this beautiful, and terrifying footage of the ice melt with his drone camera.

INSIDER-DRONE-HANER-articleLarge

Part of this drone video was used as an exciting interactive online feature that shows the melting of earth’s the largest ice chunk.

The cold temperatures limited the drone’s batteries to about 8 minutes flight time, so the flight had to be very carefully planned.

Also, the brittle nature of the ice made it too dangerous to recover the drone if it crashed!

Watch the video if the ice melt below, and share what you think about this!

See the crash landing of the drone on the next page–>


Other Related Posts:

All 5 Shark Tank Investors Are Now In The Drone Business

2 Drone Guys Get Rare Backing Of All Shark Tank Investors

When was the last time all the Shark Tank Investors backed an investment?  It rarely happens, but these 2 drone guys pulled it off.  Not only that, they even got more money than they asked for!

Watch the Sharks take the bait!

Xcraft is the Company, and they make the XPlusOne UAV, which is a hybrid between a quadcopter and an airplane.

Xcraft also has a new product in development that turns a smartphone into a drone, and it’s called the “Phone drone”.  After this episode of the shark tank aired, the funding goal for the drone phone kickstart was met in just 1 hour!

Article via

Other Top Posts:

Drone Red Tape: US Recreational Drone Owners Now Have To Register

Government Registration Will Be Mandatory For UAV Owners

More drone red tape, as US government officials announced Monday that recreational UAV owners will be required to register their UAV’s.  Drone operators are prohibited from flying within 5 miles of an airfield, and 400 ft altitude per FAA regulations.  But as of now, there is no way for law enforcement officials to track who a drone belongs to, especially if it has violated these rules.

A task force has been assembled to sort out the basic details of how the registry will work. The registry is supposed to be in place within 2 months, just ahead of the peak Christmas buying season.

Here are some main points of the announcement:

The FAA and the Transportation Department are setting up a task force composed of government officials and industry representatives to devise the registration system. Foxx said the group has until Nov. 20 to finalize its recommendations so the government can set up the registry before Christmas — the peak season for drone sales.

Such a timetable amounts to lightning speed for the FAA, which usually labors for years to shape new aviation regulations.

Foxx said the registration rules will also apply to people who have bought drones in recent years, not just new owners. He said the FAA will impose penalties — which he did not spell out — on anyone who does not comply.

Nobody knows exactly how many of the robotic aircraft are already flying around, but most estimates top 1 million.

The task force will have to wrestle with basic questions of size limits and what kinds of drones will have to be registered. Most consumer models weigh only a few pounds, but many can easily reach altitudes above 1,000 feet.

Other Related Posts:

Article & Video via Washington Post

image 1 via

image 2 via

Drone Flyover Of Tesla’s New Gigafactory

An Early Look At A Building That Could Change The World

When completed, this 5.5M sq. ft building outside Sparks Nevada will produce batteries for Tesla cars, allowing production of affordable electric cars.

Elon Musk intends for this building to propel humanity forward to sustainable transportation, by bringing the entire lithium-ion battery manufacturing process under one roof.  Battery production would start in 2017, and be up to full scale production by 2020.

Not only will it be the biggest lithium-ion producing factory on earth, but bigger than all existing Li-ion battery facilities in the world combined!

Watch the video and share what you think!

https://youtu.be/7QDApUM41js

See Tesla’s Next Generation Drone Design

The entire building will be completely powered by renewable energy via rooftop solar panels, wind turbines, and geothermal energy.  The factory is perfectly aligned with true North to maximize solar efficiency, and allow GPS placement of the internal production centers inside the building.

The roof should be completed by Feb 2016.  Solar panels will be installed later, but the white covering will keep the roof cool, and optimize solar panel efficiency.

factory1

The Gigafactory’s electrical infrastructure reportedly cost approximately $300,000.

factory2

The foundation alone cost an estimated $16 million, and just the steel and concrete for the buildings mezzanine cost nearly $13 million.

factory4

Let us know what you think!

Other Related Posts:

Thanks to Tech Insider and Tesla’s gigafactory for this article!

The First Anti-Drone Jamming Gun To Neutralize Hostile UAV’s

Radio Jamming Gun Can Disable UAV’s To 400 Ft. Away

The latest in counter-UAV (C-UAV) technology is this portable radio jammer gun. It emits an instant 30 degree cone of radio waves, that can quickly and safely neutralize a percieved drone threat.

Check out this simulation video of an anti-drone gun disabling naughty drones.

This anti-drone gun is being developed and tested by Battelle, a security R&D company headquartered in Columbus, Ohio.

Even though the video was a demonstration, the company creators say that it has been successfully tested.

This device has not been authorized as required by the rules of the Federal Communications Commission. This device is not, and may not be, offered for sale or lease, or sold or leased, until authorization is obtained.


Other Counter-UAV Related Posts:

To read more, check out Battelle’s press release.

image 1 via

These Drones Will Plant 1 Billion Trees

UK Company Is Developing A Way To Counter Global Deforestation Using UAVs

BioCarbon Engineering is a UK company is developing an industrial method to planing trees using drones.  Their goal is to counter the massive deforestation taking currently taking place, through lumber harvesting, urban expansion, mining, and agriculture.

It is estimated 26 billion trees are lost each year to human activities, and drones could provide an automated way of re-planting mother earth.

BioCarbon Engineering estimates that using the drones, 150 two-person teams could plant at 10 times the rate of conventional planting but at just 15 per cent of the cost. “We are moving from the lab into the field in the coming months. But we need financing for large-scale field trials,” said Ms Graham.

The project will help make plantation processes more efficient in that less time and manpower will be needed. The drones will be able to access places that are too difficult or dangerous for humans to get to.

Read more about this at biocarbonengineering.com

image via

article via

2 Ways Hackers Can Hijack Quadcopters

Design Flaws Leave Most Drones Vulnerable For Take-Over

Check out this video that demonstrates a Parrot quadcopter hijack by a malware program called MalDrone.

Despite the popularity of quadcopters these days, only a few seems to be taking into account the risks of cyber attacks.

At the recent Virus Bulletin conference in Prague, Oleg Petrovsky of HP Security Research recently detailed 2 methods that hackers can use to hijack quadcopters.  Most of these quadcopters are available as standard off-the-shelf kits on the market today.

Interestingly, these very same design flaws are being used for counter-UAV security systems, like the Falcon Shield system.


Other Related Posts:

See next page for the 2 ways to hijack quadcopters

This Intercepter Drone Could Paralyze Other Naughty Drones

Could This Idea Really Work?

Here’s an interesting idea under development:  The Rapere Intercept Drone.

This drone would specifically be designed to automatically target other drones via scanning cameras, hover above them, and deploy a rotor tangling string to knock them out of the sky.  Potential customers would be celebrities wishing to thwart paparazzi,  business owners requiring tighter security, or anyone seeking privacy.

rapere1

raperefeat

rapere3

The design group claims to be commercial drone developers with many years of UAV experience, and are designing the drone to be faster and more agile than many of the “voyeur-type” drones on the market.  (no way it would catch one of these racers, or a Charpu QAV250)

Other counter UAV (C-UAV) technologies under development are Boeing’s Laser cannon, and Silex-ES (a UK defense company).

Read the FAQ below from the developer’s website

Why?

Having worked in the UAS industry for years, we’ve collectively never come across any bogus use of drones. However it’s inevitable that will happen, and for people such as celebrities, where there is profit to be made in illegally invading their privacy, there should be an option to thwart it.

How is it used?

It sits permanently on it’s charging base, indoors, until ready to deploy. Simply take it outside, put it on the ground, and press the GO button. The Rapere will take off, while at the same time scanning the sky for drones. It can tell the difference between a bird and a drone, and will fly over top of any drone within range, then disable it.

After the target drone is disabled, it will return to base and land, where you can add a new tangle-line for a second flight.

How does it work?

Lots of (12) high framerate (90 fps) moderately low res cameras (VGA) pointing in every direction, with structure from motion being used to guide the drone to it’s target – hovering above the free floating target drone. Fortunately for us detecting a free floating object which is well illuminated and far from any other visible object is easy. We can burn lots of watts on the onboard computer, because of the short flight time. This is difficult on normal UAS.

When will it be available?

Not sure. We are in talks about mass production, while continuing to develop the product. This also depends on the volume of interest, so please sign up to our mailing list and boost the numbers!

How much will it cost?

It won’t be cheap like a DJI type drone. It will be priced as a professional tool – we don’t want this to become a toy people can use to disrupt legitimate drone use.

What type of drones can it intercept?

Any ‘rotary wing’ like a quadcopter. It isn’t fast enough to catch circling fixed wing drones, yet. We designed it primarily to intercept the type of drones used by paparazzi or voyeurs flying over private residence.

Can the target drone evade interception?

We’ve been having great fun trying, but the answer is ‘not really’. Because of the intentionally designed short flight time (2 mins, vs a normal drone 15 minutes) we can drain the batteries much faster, and have a much higher power to weight ratio. With a flight time of 2 minutes, this is the best performing drone we can imagine from a flight performance point of view. It’s even hard to see it once it’s a few hundred feet up because it’s so fast.

Who are the people behind this?

We are commercial drone developers who teamed up with some computer vision experts to enable the device to ‘see’ and fly itself. Right now we are flying under the radar for commercial reasons, but all will be revealed in time.

To read more, check out the rapere website

Use A Drone To Walk Your Dog

Give A Dog A Drone

New and innovative uses for drones are popping up everywhere, to improve our lives every day.

Brian Wheelhouse from Whitehall Dog Rescue in East Ardsley has come up with an clever  way to exercise the 35 dogs at a shelter he runs.  He uses a DJI Phantom 3 to tire out the dogs by letting them chase it on their private property.  The dogs get all the exercise they need!

dronedoggiewalk

But keeping so many long-term residents happy and healthy is no small feat. Many busy people have enough trouble finding the time and energy to walk and play with just 1 dog a day. By using a DJI Phantom 3 as a remote-controlled Frisbee, Brian Wheelhouse, the owner of Whitehall Dog Rescue, is able to provide even the most energetic residents with sufficient activity and mental stimulation.

Across the pond in New York,  Jeff Myers also uses his drone to monitor his dog’s location and check in on it from time to time. Just enter the quadcopter’s flight path into the computer, and sends the dog on its way.  Imagine one day there could be a bike path, and a dog walking path for dog walking drones.

Watch below and share your thoughts!

Feature Image via

Article via DJI