It won’t be there. But if it was, no, you couldn’t shoot it down
By Lewis Page
Posted in Bootnotes, 3rd December 2013 13:27 GMT
So no, there will not be an electric quadcopter delivery drone delivering your Cyber Monday packages in 2015: nor even in 2025, most likely, as even Jeff Bezos more or less openly admits if you look at what he actually said.
Yes, there are homes to be found – more of them perhaps in United States than in other places – where electric quadcopters of today could make a safe delivery. All you need is a largish bit of accessible open space that is your own property, airspace above in which the drone is allowed to fly, and some kind of infrastructure to boost the aircraft’s GPS accuracy to the sub-metre range. This could be a beacon of your own, or a differential-GPS station quite far away, various other things.
Even in the US, though, not that many people live in homes with acceptably large bits of private land attached or convenient, large, flat roofs etc. Even fewer live under airspace that might be open for unmanned traffic any time soon.
And the real killer is that while some American homes do exist where a quadcopter either could deliver now – or anyway might be allowed to at some point relatively soon – very, very few such homes now lie within effective electric-quadcopter range of any sort of distribution warehouse, Amazon or not. Not many such homes can actually fit into the circle that such aircraft can reach from a given point, even if a warehouse was there – which it will not be, by definition, because not many people are living nearby.
So, no, not happening soon even if you do have a large garden, driveway, forecourt etc and happen to live somewhere remote enough that the airspace above is or might be unrestricted.
But there is one thing that Mr Bezos and his putative drone fleet don’t need to worry about. That’s irate gun owners beneath their flight path shooting the aircraft out of the sky.
These days it’s standard: some drone story or other goes large – police, Feds, Amazon, whatever. The next day in gun-heavy states, the local reporters look up some reliable gun firebrand, who reliably states that the first time he sees a damn drone above his property, out will come his trusty duck gun and blam – no more drone.
Except that’s no more credible than the sky-fulla-drones idea in the first place.
Our man with the shotgun is not much up on drones, of course, and the reporter is not much up on guns or probably drones either. But if either knew a few basic facts about both, he would see that trying to shoot down drones with any weapon a normal American might have about the house is a non-starter.