Jeremy Clarkson is... advertising Amazon Prime Air? This is not as thrilling as watching The Stig careen around a damp track, but we'll take it.
Regardless, this is big news and if (when) it becomes reality, the way we buy things online will be forever changed. Think about it - no need to get dressed and go to the store when you want a box of cookies at 2:00 AM! Little Millie's missing soccer clete is just the beginning. Obviously, we won't have access to their entire warehouse; the sheer amount of stuff available for purchase on Amazon is pretty outrageous. Also, for the time being, the size and weight of objects available for drone transport will be significantly limited. Who knows though.. maybe one day the sky will be full of Chinook-sized UAVs sporting a blue/white/yellow paint job and delivering new cars or this $120,000 TV (it has great reviews!)
The idea is not without drawbacks. For those of us who enjoy privacy, a fleet of HD camera-equipped UAV's flying over our back yards isn't the most comforting thought. Considering the invasive data collection policies already in place by huge companies like Microsoft and Google, it's not far-fetched to assume that Amazon will use every tool at their disposal to collect personal information about their customers.
Privacy concerns are not Amazon's obstacle at all though - their biggest hurdle (at the time of this article) are the current regulations on unmanned aircraft. The proliferation of consumer-grade drones has already caused real trouble in regards to airspace saturation. Among other regulations, there is a 400-foot flight ceiling and restrictions around airports. These regulations didn't help the California wildfires this past summer, when hobbyist drones interfered with firefighting efforts. There is a legitimate safety concern in filling the airspace above us with flying gadgets.
Is the convenience of 30-minute delivery worth its cost in terms of privacy and safety? This seems to be the most important question around the entire idea. Would you trust a drone to transport your phone or tablet for repairs? The possibilities are virtually limitless.
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