OffBeat

Apparently it's free marketing week (or, can we please all stop droning on about drones?)

draganflyer-drone
Image Credit: DraganFly.com

So Amazon is experimenting with drones that will deliver its goods via “Prime Air” — its “octocopter” robotic aircraft that will deliver packages up to 10 miles from Amazon’s warehouses. And UPS, unwilling to be left completely out of the consumer orgy hype cycle, says it has been testing and evaluating delivery drones as well. TechCrunch thinks drones should be used to rent stuff instead of buying it, and CNN is investigating how they would work.

Really?

Could we just stop droning on about drones? If not, I have news too.

Amazon's Prime Air "octocopter" drone

Above: Amazon’s Prime Air “octocopter” drone

Microsoft is working on a time machine that will turn back the clock on the tablet revolution and the smartphone craze so that it can be first in both massively profitable innovations. It won’t be ready for 100 years, but that won’t matter, because it is, after all, a time machine. BlackBerry wanted to join that project, but Microsoft took its ball and went home with the cool kids, so the dead-company-walking formerly known as Research In Motion is inventing a new insertable iris that will completely eliminate the need for an iPhone or Android smartphone and connect directly to BBM and your company’s mainframe.

And Google is giving up on cyborg style, dropping Google Glass for a Matrix-style front mounted jack-in port in your skull that will be virtually invisible and interact with your visual center directly, while reading your mind and giving you what you want before you know you want it.

Sorry to say, but here’s a little dose of reality.

Amazon has precisely 14 fulfillment centers in the entire 3.7 million square miles of the United States of America, and not one of them is within 10 minutes drone-flying distance of you. Drones with open, unguarded blades can be dangerous, as a 19-year old man flying a model helicopter found out earlier this year. And — I know this is shocking — the FAA, which regulates most flying machines, has not yet issued a set of guidelines for drone cargo fleets and likely won’t until at least 2015. Oh, and I know this is kind of dogpiling, but the battery life of most small drones is not very good at all, and having to recharge for an hour or two after every three deliveries might make your dreams of happy robotic deliveries turn to slow molasses nightmares.

As Dan Lyons very aptly pointed out, the true purpose of “Prime Air” is not to deliver consumer crap to your door, it was to deliver massive publicity to Amazon — just before Cyber Monday.

And boy, did it work.

Drone, drone, drone.