Hovering over dangerous territory

By Nathan Nguyen

Staff Writer

Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 10.39.04 AM Technology is constantly changing, growing, and advancing. With these changes comes a great deal of speculation about what the result of these changes will be. One of the most significant issues that is affecting one of the largest corporations in the country are whether or not drone delivery systems should be legal and whether they invade certain rights. Although this breakthrough may sounds like a fantastic innovation, issues pertaining to privacy, technological impediments, and overall safety express major concern for safety, efficiency, and productivity.

Recently, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced that they will be using drones without human interference, to deliver packages within thirty minutes of purchasing them. Vice President of Amazon, Paul Misener stated in an interview with TIME Magazine, “These drones will weigh about 55 pounds each, but they’ll be able to deliver parcels that weigh up to five pounds. It turns out that the vast majority of the things we sell at Amazon weigh less than five pounds.” The delivery drones will use GPS technology in order to find houses and will almost definitely have a camera in order to ensure a safe landing and navigation through its surroundings. It’s very unlikely that Amazon will use that information to collect data on you for the government, but more importantly, the company will have to have to implement privacy protections in place. This is because Amazon’s drone delivery system may be a form of trespassing on private property according to the Federal Aviation Administration when it flies over the airspace above a person’s property. CEO of 3D robotics, Chris Anderson, comments; “The use of drones for delivery in built-up areas around people” makes no sense, citing safety concerns. [Jeff Bezos] is ridiculous on the use of drones; however, for farmers and agribusiness he has a point.”

In addition to this problem, if the drone somehow fails and falls on private property, the many people are arguing that the drone ceases to belong to Amazon, including the package that the drone is carrying. In addition, one of the biggest hurdles for Amazon may be the logistics of using the drones to deliver to so many different types of addresses including homes, apartment buildings and commercial properties that each have their own problems to solve for a successful delivery, all while using a fairly vulnerable technology. For instance, a group of researchers from the University of Texas recently hacked a sophisticated drone using a store-bought GPS system. Todd Humphrey, a professor at the University of Texas, explained that, “If you can convincingly fake a GPS signal, you can convince an (unmanned aerial vehicle) into tracking your signal instead of the authentic one, and at that point you can control the UAV.”Although, Amazon may have some sophisticated system it’s working on to overcome those hurdles, but it will be extremely challenging.

Finally, the drone system can lead to injuries to both Amazon and people who are subject to having drones flown over them. Not only is the expensive drone equipment lost, but so is the item that stands to be delivered. This can cause millions of dollars in lost revenue per year. In addition, Amazon may also have a great deal of angry customers to deal with since customers prefer systems that guarantee delivery, not prevent it from occurring. Dr. Darren Ansell, a British expert in unmanned aerial vehicles, told the BBC that “The [drones] do not currently have the awareness of their environment to be able to avoid flying into people.” In terms of personal injuries, the drone system is not a perfect technology, and as such, problems can easily arise. If a drone were to harm an individual or to damage personal property, then Amazon will incur a range of hefty costs and perhaps even a number of lawsuits on behalf of those who have been injured. Along with major injuries, the new drone system may be thwarted because regulators may require brands to have insurance policies on the drone system. The insurance policies that the brands will be required to institute will not be cheap, but very costly. With the high costs involved, the revolutionary move to turn drone delivery systems into a reality throughout the country may be in a major let-down.

Although drone delivery might seem like the next big step for delivery companies, the process should be slowed down due to issues pertaining to privacy, technological impediments, and overall safety until more solid hardware has been developed.


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