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home : opinion : opinion September 15, 2014


12/8/2013 6:00:00 AM
Editorial: In the drone war, we'll all be combatants

Alan Choate
News Editor


Raise your hand if you, like me, think this whole Amazon drone delivery brouhaha was a stunt.

It was well done, but a stunt is a stunt. Think about it. The 60 Minutes piece came at the end of a long holiday weekend, and news was in short supply. The stage was being set for "Cyber Monday," the day dedicated to online Christmas shopping. And here's Amazon, the online retailer all other online retailers want to be, announcing that they want to have autonomous drones to deliver orders to your house in 30 minutes or less, a promise Domino's Pizza doesn't even make anymore.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was careful enough to say that this service is years away, that there's a lot to be worked out yet, from FAA rules to making sure that drones don't land on someone's head. Or crash into buildings. They won't have pilots, after all - just GPS coordinates. I think it's interesting that the video Amazon showed had their drone flying over an open field, not navigating the urban canyons of New York City.

Now, part of me says this idea will never go anywhere. But I admit that if this service existed, I would use it from time to time. For instance, if I ran out of contact lens solution, having some flown to me would be far better than my blind eyes trying to navigate Stockton Hill Road.

I think, however, that Bezos is not fully envisioning the future, even though he talks a lot about the pace of innovation displacing existing firms.

We don't need Amazon drones.

We'll have our own.

Just imagine never having to go to the grocery store again. Send the drone! It'll have to have a basket, of course, and mechanical arms to open doors in the freezer section and grab bananas and such. A bar code on the machine will bill your purchases to your account, and the drone whizzes back to your door.

Sure, it'll be weird seeing drones plucking grapes, juice and paper towels from the aisles, but we'll get used to it.

Our local restaurants should jump on this bandwagon, too. The pizza places deliver; why shouldn't we be able to order tacos or burgers or fajitas to our doors?

That would be a sight to behold. It's late, I want tacos, I order some, and lo and behold, in very short order there's a drone at my door dropping off tacos. What would be really cool is some parachute technology so that my tacos or pizza or sandwich would waft gently on the breeze into my front yard.

Inevitably, though, problems will arise.

It would only take a few modifications to turn these friendly service drones into truly "predator" drones. It would be wrong, but it will happen: After all, who could resist taking out a low-flying aircraft carrying something tasty? There would be drones with battering rams on them, or even firepower. Our skies would be filled with dogfighting drones, and people on the ground would use slingshots and shotguns to knock drones out of the sky for the bounty they carry.

Okay, that probably wouldn't happen. But if it did, e-commerce would be a lot more interesting.




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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, December 20, 2013
Article comment by: tj denton

bobber. that is what an rfid tag does. it coordinates witha scanner. just because you ASSUMED that she was saying that they were being installed in hospitals, does not mean thats what they said....you say nevermind alot. Its because you cant finish a point. so im not having trouble with the "written word" im just explaining to you that you are incorrect in telling her that she is posting nonsense when you have not done any research on the subject. keep spinning though, seems as though you are starting to get dizzy

Posted: Friday, December 20, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“actually anson that it is confirmed that the FDA has approved rfid chips to be used in humans.”

Still having problems with comprehending the written word I see. My response was to the incorrect statement, ““I hear the FDA has already oked it, especially for entering hospitals with coordinating scanners.”

Perhaps I misunderstood this bit of nonsense posted by LA, but I took it to mean the chips are currently being “installed” in people having “something” to do with hospitals.

I do wish you would stop attempting to…never, mind.


Posted: Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Article comment by: tj denton

""Nope. You really gotta stop listening to right wing, it just makess you always look…well, you know"".


actually anson that it is confirmed that the FDA has approved rfid chips to be used in humans. a simple google search will lead you to many new sights, including im sure your beloved NBC which confirms it... you really gotta stop posting about topics that you are ignorant on, it just always makes you look...well, you know.


Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013
Article comment by: Oh Ya

"Boys (and some girls) will always be boys and they would have such fun shooting them out of the sky"

For once I agree. If this were to become true (which I doubt), I could see where there would be a bounty put on these drones, I mean heck what would happen if a child was attacked by one at a bus stop. They could become just as dangerous as the wolves! Would we be able to have a "drone" season where you could purchase a "drone" tag? Think of the new revenue!


Posted: Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“Much more worrisome is VeriChip, the radio frequency ID tag under your skin. The Bible says …”

And the Bible says bearing false witness is a sin and yet you never worry about that.

“Most of us have been aware of the mark of the beast all our lives…”

And most of us laughed it off as more ridiculous nonsense.

“Now it is, possibly has already been implanted in the fatty tissue of some people's bodies.”

Whose bodies? When? Where? And how do you know all of these big “secrets” that no one else is aware of?

“I hear the FDA has already oked it, especially for entering hospitals with coordinating scanners.”

Nope. You really gotta stop listening to right wing, it just makess you always look…well, you know.




Posted: Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

International borders exist for a reason, they limit any other countries actions once you cross that border, if anyone did to us as we are doing world wide we would be called terrorists, war criminals, etc. but in this old world might makes right, sadly we may one day rue the allowing of certain leaders in our military industrial complex make these wars for their benefactors, one of our best loved former Generals and presidents warned of the military complex and how they are a danger to our democracy!

Posted: Monday, December 9, 2013
Article comment by: Biggest Brotherus .....

how about an in-your-house mini-drone that will bring your grub from the kitchen to your computer work station or sofa? Of course, Obama's DHS/NSA/FBI/DIA/and the rest will be spying on you, so about the time your mini-drone is placing that pizza in your lap, expect a flashing message on your computer or TV screen over an image of the wickedly smiling Dear Leader - "My drone is bigger than your drone!"

Posted: Monday, December 9, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

m not worried about these little drones. Boys (and some girls) will always be boys and they would have such fun shooting them out of the sky, much like we shot bats here in Kingman long ago with sling shots. Or as one poster mentioned, let one land on prized vegetables and it's gone.

Much more worrisome is VeriChip, the radio frequency ID tag under your skin. The Bible says in Rev 13:16 He (the Antichrist) causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, 17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

Most of us have been aware of the mark of the beast all our lives - just didn't think it would be understandable in my lifetime. Now it is, possibly has already been implanted in the fatty tissue of some people's bodies. I hear the FDA has already oked it, especially for entering hospitals with coordinating scanners.

It's a whole new world.


Posted: Monday, December 9, 2013
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

"If Bezos wants to do something of value let him collect some sales tax so he won't have such an unfair advantage....."

Because he is a eeeeeeevvvviiiiiiiiilllllll capitalist, right?

Since there is no law stating he has to collect sales tax, how exactly does he have a "unfair advantage.

Feel free to shop at any two-bit, mom & pop store that suits you. Me, I will keep on ordering on-line and enjoying lower prices and MUCH faster delivery.

You of course can provide us all with a really good reason to pay higher prices, and wait longer for anything that needs to be ordered, right?

The Amazon drone thing will likely be a looooooong way off. But one thing you can count on the having GPS and cameras.

Wake up. It is the 21st century.

But in the future, take your best, really stupid shot. See you in the police blotter after you do.

LOL


Posted: Sunday, December 8, 2013
Article comment by: The Fox Hound

Great column Alan and I certainly hope its a stunt. When I watched it on 60 minutes I was horrified by the idea of all these drones buzzing around our local skies like so many angry hornets. Why I even went and looked for my shotgun. I found it in the closet all dusty from lack of use. So go ahead on Bezos I'm ready to yell PULL and shoot your idea down. Not everything that can be done should be done. The airways belong to all of us not just Bezos, that's why it won't happen, because who in their right mind would want to live in a world where thousands of deliveries dot the sky. Some of us like birds. If Bezos wants to do something of value let him collect some sales tax so he won't have such an unfair advantage over brick and mortar stores that have to do the same. Kingman could use the tax money as well as lots of small towns across America. This would cause Mr. Bezos to make a little less money but I think he'll be ok. PULL

Posted: Sunday, December 8, 2013
Article comment by: Cliff Whittaker

I just wonder, if a drone lands in my yard by mistake and my dog kills it do I get to keep it ? If a drone flies into my airspace without prior authorization , am I allowed to shoot it down, disassemble, blueprint and sell that information to other drone manufactures ? Can I designate my properties as no fly drone zones by entering the gps info into yet another new government agency ? If a drone lands in my wives garden and the propellers damage the jalapenos and lettuce can we file a law suit for damages ?

Posted: Sunday, December 8, 2013
Article comment by: Doing Research

1) The title is a little misleading... I get it, but really?

2) Anyone that didn't realize it was a stunt needs to ask someone to help them velcro their shoes on each morning. That 60 minutes ran it seems to speak to the apparent lack of motivation to do real reporting.

3) People need to understand that military drones are pilot-less planes, and that quad-copter drones are stable, but they're basically just large remote control toys.

4) Peapod, Amazon Fresh, and several other grocery delivery services already exist... they just use trucks and humans is all. Same with GrubHub. That anyone thinks a small helicopter can bring 30 lbs of groceries, or do it in any sort of weather at all, even a breeze, is crazy.

Would the "Amazon Prime Air" button blink in and out of existence as wind gusts hover around the threshold of their operability tolerance? Plus ONE person drives each item to the delivery spot. Massively inefficient, but a fun concept.


Posted: Sunday, December 8, 2013
Article comment by: Capt. Nice

I can see something like this being used by some business within their own confines but
sending one out to the public would be a disaster.
Like you said people would use them a target practice or people would try to pick on up and get seriously hurt and then the lawsuits would come flying in...
If they improved one of these machines with camera's and all sorts of safety devices it would be so expensive that if some wise guy shot one out of the air it would not be cost effective.
I hope the cartel does not get hold of them as it would be a good way to get bales of dope across the Rio Grande...just a thought.


Posted: Sunday, December 8, 2013
Article comment by: Frank in Kingman

Alan, I can't believe you're doubting that Amazon can deliver a package by drone. I know that Amazon has been practicing drone deliveries for years. Their international division makes deliveries in Pakistan several times a week.
I know your sitting there saying... How can I believe someone that's sitting in their living room bunker wearing a tin foil hat and tin foil underwear, (can't be too careful) Well Alan, I have 100% faith in the voices in my head. They always seem to be right and have kept the black helicopters away from my house for years.
So in conclusion Alan. Always trust Amazon, they're our friends and they'd never lie or pull a PR stunt.




Posted: Sunday, December 8, 2013
Article comment by: Origional Kingman Resident

"Our skies would be filled with dogfighting drones, and people on the ground would use slingshots and shotguns to knock drones out of the sky for the bounty they carry."


You're right, drone deliveries and personal shopper drones aren't practice, but the drones, sling shots and unknown goodies dropping from the sky would make a cool video game.


Posted: Sunday, December 8, 2013
Article comment by: rufus dogg

these drones would take target practice to a whole new level....but then , they would want us to use up our ammo.



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