Amazon drones on the horizon?
The Superbowl, American football’s showpiece event, is almost as famous for its half time adverts as it is for the actual sport itself. Perhaps that is not surprising given that they manage to stretch a one hour game out over a full three hours.
Corporations see the ludicrously expensive advertising time on offer as a prime opportunity to get their message out to an audience which is regularly measured at more than 100 million people. How effective these adverts are is up for debate, but there is no doubting that the most innovative adverts are talked about for days afterwards.
For the 2017 edition, Superbowl LI, the thoughtful pro-immigration Budweiser advert got the most press, arriving as it did at such a sensitive time. However, when it comes to impact, it is possible that we will look back on an altogether more modest advert in years to come.
Amazon have been quietly trialling their new drone delivery service for some time, but it has never been clear how viable it is on a large scale or how far off mass-implementation the technology was.
In the UK, Amazon has only carried out one commercial trial so far, delivering items via their airborne service in Cambridge. In the USA, federal authorities approved the service in June, but only for line-of-sight services – that is, not for automated drones flights like the UK trial operated.
However, the Superbowl gave us a hint that this might be changing soon. This high profile advert suggests that Amazon is ramping up its efforts to implement drone deliveries in the USA sooner rather than later, and this is not a company with a track record of promising things before it can – figuratively and literally – deliver them.
“Prime Air is not available in some states (or any really). Yet.”
That was the message on display, and it is a reality which is likely to change. How people will take to a mass market drone distribution system is currently unknown. It is equally plausible that it could take off in a big way, or fail horribly as people get scared of the idea of drones taking over their peaceful skies.
One debate that Amazon won’t be able to avoid is the debate over automation. These drones will put postmen out of work at a rapid pace and it is possible that this will be the next front in the war to keep people in their jobs.
But automation is a bigger issue, and a matter to investigate another time.