You’ve heard about Amazon drones, the Seattle-based e-tail giant’s new idea to use drones to deliver packages on the same day to customers, particularly those in “densely populated” urban areas? The way it works is like this: you order something from Amazon. You want it the same day. Your order is placed in a tupperware container which then gets sent to something resembling the checkout line at Acme where a model “octocopter”(the kind your 5th grader got for Christmas last year) swoops it into the air and seamlessly delivers it to your door.
Really, this is how it will work. And in only a few years. Assuming FAA approval of course. And assuming that we’re all insane.
Yes, insane. Because only an insane person would believe this. And yet, everyone seems to love the idea. The company’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, is being praised as a God, a Renaissance Man, a cultural icon, a genius. Or maybe that’s Ron Burgundy. I’m starting to get these two confused. But the best part about this story is how serious the media is treating it. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, I can think of a few things.
1. It will create a dangerous mess
As if our skies aren’t crowded enough. Amazon is a giant company. There could be hundreds of thousands of drone shipments a day. And if they get approval from the FAA to do go forward with this absurd plan, then other companies will soon follow. Imagine swarms of drones carrying everything from iPhones to Uggs buzzing overhead, banging into each other, blocking out the sun, knocking into birds and raining down copies of Fifty Shades of Grey on your daughter’s elementary school. Is this what you want America? Have we not all been struck by the poop of a passing bird at some point in our lives? Now we must have drones falling on our heads too?
2. There will be tech problems
So let’s say there are hundreds of thousands of drones zipping around all over the place delivering Despicable Me 2 dolls and packages of Spanx. What happens if there’s a tech problem? A software error? A broken wing or something? And then the drone falls from the sky. On your head. Or in traffic. It happens to those billion-dollar military drones, so you know it’s going to happen to Amazon’s $9.99 versions. Who’s going to support these things? The same guys who support Healthcare.gov? No thanks.
3. Teenage kids will create a new sport
Imagine you’re 17, hanging with your friends, bored, and have access to a pile of rocks, a copy of Kanye’s Yeezus and a case of beer. Let the games begin! How many drones can you knock down in mid-flight? How soon before “anti-drone” toys appear in the Sharper Image catalog for family fun? “Yo dude, extra points for knocking down the Victoria’s Secret drone!”
4. Besides rain, the forecast will also be falling drones
Sometimes it rains. Hard. And gets windy, too. Oh, and it also snows. And hails and sleets and ices. Are these drones indestructible? Will a 20-mile-per-hour wind send them flying into trees or houses or render them otherwise useless? Most people in my town can’t even drive when there’s a slight drizzle. And we expect Amazon’s drones to still function?
5. Our enemies will love this
Besides Bezos, you know who else can’t wait for those drones to start flying? Al Qaeda. Terrorists. The Chinese. These people are already hacking into our government’s computers… you don’t think they can pluck a few hundred drones out of the sky, re-program them and then send them off to deliver poisons, toxins and those Wonka Pixy Stix powdered candies which are delicious but do terrible things to your teeth? The writers on Homeland are already licking their chops.
6. The targeted market is dumb
The company is targeting densely populated urban areas. This seems pretty dumb. For starters, their promotional film shows the package being delivered to a remote house on a beautiful sunny day. I’m more interested in seeing how a package is going to find its way to my great aunt Rebecca on the 14th floor of her apartment building in Queens without breaking a window or giving her neighbors a heart attack. Seems like a bad idea to me, but hey… I’m not the CEO of Amazon, so what the hell do I know?
7. Female office workers will revolt
Think those UPS guys are going to accept being replaced by drones? They’re pretty huge and I wouldn’t want to make them angry. More importantly, do you think any sane woman working in an office will agree to a drone replacing that ripped UPS guy in that sexy brown uniform who winks at her every morning? Bezos, you don’t even know the can of worms you’re opening. This will be war, and it will not be pretty.
This whole drone idea is stupid and it will never happen. And Bezos knows this. He’s already given enough caveats to easily protect himself against failure. But that’s no excuse for our media. They love the idea! It’s the future! It’s cool! It’s good fodder for even 60 Minutes to cover on Thanksgiving weekend (watch below). And even if Amazon never gets its drones off the ground, the idea’s already succeeded. Bezos got more free public relations attention for his company than any CEO could dream of. Yes, the drone idea is stupid. But when it comes to promotion, Bezos is a genius.
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