back to article Amazon comes up with delivery-drone zones after watching Fifth Element all night

Amazon has outlined a futuristic plan that would give drones their own 200-foot-thick piece of sky to zoom around in – and deliver packages in super-fast times. Amazon Prime Air co-founder Gur Kimchi outlined the plan in a keynote at the Unmanned Aerial Systems Traffic Management (UTM) Convention in Silicon Valley on Tuesday …

  1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge


    In USA I can imagine some less responsible people who possess guns will think it a good sport to treat this like sitting ducks at the fairground: "Let's see what goodies we can shoot down today."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fairground @Ken Moorhouse

      No, we all sit around and try to figure which facetious, liberal, anti-gun, rabble rousing, ignorant, twat we can shoot.

    2. matchbx

      Re: Fairground

      yes.... the crazies are already doing just that...

    3. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: Fairground


      Probably the way forward for Amazon is to buy or rent the corridor of air they want to use for their deliveries, in the same way that the London Underground had to compensate land-owners for tunnelling under their properties when building the Victoria (and other, subsequent) tube lines.

      Other interested parties would either enter the "air real estate" market themselves, or rent it from Amazon. Lawyers will love it: stipulating how many drones per hour can be flown through the space, size of drone, hours of operation, etc.

      There is the risk that some land-owners will say "not at any cost", but no doubt there will be softeners added e.g., free deliveries and collections for allowing access to your space.

  2. Old Handle

    All I can say is I think something like this is inevitable. So if Amazon is serious about their drone delivery plans (I've always had my doubts) pressing for a framework like that is a good strategy. Whether they'll get anywhere with it in the short term remains to be seen though.

  3. Zog_but_not_the_first

    Amazon wins!

    ...proposes 200-ft-thick layer of sky only for robot Amazon planes.

    Monetise the atmosphere!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WTF next?

    Well perhaps DHL, Yodel at al would also like special lanes on our roads so they can operate automated vans for their convenience and profit? That'd be OK according to Amazon's logic, the rest of us can manage with the gutter. What an over-inflated sense of their own importance these "tech" companies have.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      I missed a bit

      Where did it say the air space would be exclusive to Amazon? DHL, Yodel, or Credas could develope or buy software that meets the proposed standards and fly their own delivery drones.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I missed a bit

        It didn't - my point was that they're proposing reserving chunks of a scarce resource for the profit of a single industry, in an analogous way to the present parcel delivery industry demanding dedicated parcel delivery lanes.

        1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

          Re: I missed a bit

          "reserving chunks of a scarce resource for the profit of a single industry"

          You mean like railways?

  5. matchbx

    as usual

    xkcd has the answer.

  6. Jim E

    Alternate landing execution: Gravity

    Let's not get too elaborate...

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Alternate landing execution: Gravity

      parachute? Gliding?

  7. Stevie Silver badge



    Where am I supposed to fly my aerobatic kite, Mr Deliverydrone Fucktard? Your multirotor flying brownboxen are in my airspace according to your picture.

    Show me the plan view of this, er, plan on a real map of, say, Long Island (to pick at random) before you start layer-caking the atmosphere for tat-delivery.

    Or run the risk of encountering some high-speed duraluminum wrapped with blue plastic sheet.

  8. Velv
    Thumb Up

    Maybe Amazon need to work closer with Uber and we can haver Corbin Dallas in a taxi too...

  9. TeeCee Gold badge

    give drones their own 200-foot-thick piece of sky to zoom around in

    Sounds like a sensible idea, as long as we're not standing underneath it when the inevitable fuckup happens[1]........ah........hang on.......

    [1] My money's on some security loophole, attempted pwnage and a large helping of oops on both ends.

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Sounds like there's a market opening up for anti-drone umbrellas. I'll get right on it.

      1. Fungus Bob

        Re: anti-drone umbrellas

        In other words. roofs.

        1. Francis Boyle Silver badge


          with handles.

  10. SonofRojBlake

    I don't give a monkey's if they hit each other...

    ... so long as they don't hit ME. The operator of any aircraft has an absolute responsibility to avoid conflict with other aircraft. In class G airspace and VFR, that means you need to be able to see and avoid other things in the air - regardless of what gadgets they may or may not be carrying. I pass through Amazon's proposed "no fly zone" at least twice every time I fly a paraglider cross country. If their drones can't spot me and avoid me, they're not legal to fly. End of.

    Except I can see the CAA making an exception before long on the basis of sackloads of cash, given that there are maybe a thousand active XC paragliders in the UK, and Amazon would probably put a thousand drones up over, say, Manchester alone. Recreational users who've been quietly obeying the law for a hundred years or more will have little sway against the power of the corporates.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: I don't give a monkey's if they hit each other...

      Why wouldn't a drone be better at seeing and avoiding you than you would be at seeing and avoiding another paraglider? Drones don't make human mistakes, blink, get tired...

  11. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    Final 200 feet?

    OK, so these delivery drones are restricted to between between 200 & 400 feet. How does my fragile delivery cover the last 200 feet to the ground? Plummet and smash when it hits? Parachute down, to be blown off course and get nicked? Reeled down on a line that can get tangled in trees or aerials? Retro rockets?

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Final 200 feet?

      Deliver parcel to what amounts to a delivery pole. Pole is a big elevator thing that will slowly deliver the parcel to the ground. A ground robot can take it the last mile.

  12. Nameless Faceless Computer User

    Most birds fly below 500 feet except during migration. Does the FAA intend to ask all birds maintain a minimum altitude of 500 feet going forward? or, does anyone else see a problem with this plan?

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Lidar and/or camera. See birds. Dodge birds. How the hell you think they're going to dodge other drones? And there's three whole dimensions to dodge in...

    2. Mpeler
      Black Helicopters

      Birds? What birds?

      "Most birds fly below 500 feet except during migration"...

      Won't be a problem after all the birdchoppers are done with them.

      With Cameroon &co. mopping up tons of money with their ever-increasing windfarms, all that'll be left of the bird population is the mop up.

      What on earth is so bl33ding important that it needs to be delivered, essentially unattended, within 30 minutes? If it's medication or legal documents, it had better be in human hands (or at least human control) the whole time.

      This "in the air, everywhere" crap has to stop. Money-grubbing clowns.

  13. dotdavid

    "Clearly Amazon has learned that with the FAA, the only thing that works is external prodding"

    Speaking from experience with LOHAN? How is LOHAN prodding the FAA?

  14. stratofish

    Where do the flying cars go? Lower that 400ft or just smash through the drone layer?

  15. David Pollard

    The real problem ...

    ... is where to store the stuff after delivery until the purchaser comes home. I have come up with a concept specifically to deal with this aspect. My invention is called Safe Housing of Online Purchases, or SHOP as people will come to know it.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: The real problem ...

      Drones deliver packages to a delivery pole. Pole lowers packages to the ground and houses them there. When recipients get home, delivery pole dispatches packages on the last mile via ground drone. Why is this hard?

      1. Mpeler

        Re: The real problem ...

        Why is it necessary?

        Technology for technology's sake is not an answer.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: The real problem ...

          Because not everyone wants to go a physical bricks and mortar store. In fact, many of us loathe the experience and would prefer almost literally any other option. Why should what you enjoy or even tolerate dictate what we all must put up with?

          1. Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: The real problem ...

            > Why should what you enjoy or even tolerate dictate what we all must put up with?

            Votes, Trev. Votes. If there's more of them than there are of you, they win.

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: The real problem ...

              Votes, Trev. Votes. If there's more of them than there are of you, they win.

              Canada's a big country. Lots of places to find people who prefer to live the way I want to live. And if Canada goes squirrely, there's plenty of other countries. Worst case, I can fight for my right to live as I want.

              Tyranny of the majority is a real problem in democracy. Fortunately, in this instance, it seems that the majority of people agree with me. They'd rather not have to brave rush hour and plow through crowded stores if it can be avoided.

              Believe it or not - holy shit, batman! - most people aren't a magical combination of masochist and extrovert!

              Imagine that.

  16. Graham Triggs

    I'll happily take delivery of Leeloo

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