Amazon vs The Drone Industry

There’s been a lot of talk about Amazon Air. Of course there has - they demoed it on Cyber Monday. It looks great and all, but the key takeaway was this:

“Putting Prime Air into commercial use will take some number of years as we advance the technology and wait for the necessary FAA rules and regulations.” You see what they did there? They announced something before it was ready.

There have been a few great examples of rushed-to-market products recently. Google Glass is a great example - if you’ve used one, you’ll know what I mean. It’s interesting and all, but it’s not good enough for regularly everyday people to use - yet.

In fact, anything Microsoft have announced in the past few years suffers from this, including this absolute masterpiece of drivel - which, if you’ll pardon my language, is just straight-up bullshit.

So there’s been a lot of this, but Amazon Air is the most egregious example of jumping-the-gun to date - because the restriction on their product is external. In other words, they don’t have control over the requirements. The FAA has to allow them to do this.

I don’t like these “visions of the future.” I think they push back the industry. Whenever you fake something in advertising, the public expectation of the product ends up being years ahead of where the technology actually is. Take Siri, for example - and the articles about it being useless.

These articles were, without exception, based on expectations of the technology rather than observations of the product. Siri worked exactly as planned, and still does - but when people are expecting a Star Trek phone, anything realistic is disappointing. Siri isn’t “The first true consumer-grade AI”, it’s a voice-command system.

The real problem with the Amazon Air situation is that Amazon is forcing the FAA to do something about it. I don’t think that’s a good thing for the drone industry. By promising things to customers, you force the FAA’s hand one way or another - and if there’s pressure to deliver a decision, they’re going to swing to caution and restrict everything.

I think you’re nuts if you think the FAA are going to allow autonomous, spinning-razorblade delivery robots to land in people’s gardens at the press of a button. I just don’t think they’re going to green-light it. It’s a touchy scenario, there’s not a lot of regulation around it, and I think they’d rather err on the side of caution than allow it.

It’s only a matter of time before restrictions are placed on the drone ecosystem. It’s bound to happen as these things get cheaper and more useful. I just wish we could wait a few years before it happens, because whatever ruling we see, it’s not going to change for a while.

Until then, you can check out my drone photography at ([] and on (Instagram)[].


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