Amazon is taking a big step in introducing drone delivery to the masses, but it doesn’t come without its challenges. Company vice president of global public policy Paul Misener sat down with Yahoo to talk about some of those challenges, and he went into surprising detail about some of the issues they’ve faced, as well as the vision that they have for when drone delivery finally becomes a normal thing.
One of the more interesting subjects touched on was drone safety, which is an obvious talking point with the FAA getting more serious about drone usage in the United States. Amazon says their flying robots of awesomeness were designed with nothing but safety in mind, noting that the drones can detect trees and other obstacles and be sure not to fly into them. He even used a pretty vivid example:
These drones are more like horses than cars — and let me explain why. If you have a small tree in your front yard, and you want to bang your car into it for some reason, you can do that. Your spouse might not be happy with you, but you can do it. But try riding a horse into the tree. It won’t do it. The horse will see the tree and go around it. Same way our drones will not run into trees, because they will know not to run into it.
Works for me. In fact, Amazon says the biggest obstacle they have are the thieves who gun the drones down in attempts to steal the goods being delivered, which is certainly a big issue. Their hope is that the problem will eradicate itself as people get bored of doing it, especially since many of the items they’ll deliver won’t be too valuable as Amazon plans to limit drone delivery to items that weigh 5 pounds or less. Amazon also thinks drones will become as common as seeing delivery trucks, so people will look at them and won’t think twice about doing anything.
Amazon has thought about all sorts of other challenges too, including how to deliver to people who live in apartment complexes, as well as designing their drones to be safe in different conditions (an area known for rain might have a different drone than one in a typically dry climate, for instance). The full interview is quite interesting so try to find a quick 5-minute block of time in your day to give it a read.