In an urban environment
It's hard to see how the drone complies with 'not below five hundred feet above the highest near object' and 'fly under four hundred feet'.
Amazon.com has revealed that it's made its first delivery by autonomous aerial drone, to a chap named “Richard B” who lives somewhere in Cambridgeshire, England. Richard ordered a bag of popcorn and an Amazon Fire TV. Amazon's released a saccharine video to mark the occasion. If you'd rather not endure it embedded below, the …
Why would they shoot at a drone delivering to their property?
Oh, I see, you are implying your neighbours will shoot at a drone over someone else's property, or over a public space. Or towards, or within 50ft of a highway? All of these are an offence, and they'll go to jail. It's not rocket science to work out who has been issued with a shotgun certificate in the same postcode as a drone was downed, is it?
And why would your neighbours, or anyone do that, exactly? Do they shoot at aeroplanes?
"Oh, I see, you are implying your neighbours will shoot at a drone over someone else's property, or over a public space."
I'm not sure if you are aware of this, but to get from one person's property to another person's property, you need to go over a third person's property.* They can shoot at it over their own property...
( * which I guess could be the highway, but you take my point )
You aren't allowed to shoot things that fly over your property under any circumstances. You make a complaint, you don't take the law into your own hands.
Also, there are several codes of conduct and legal restrictions that limit the flight paths of drones, especially drones equipped with cameras, so Amazon will not be allowed to fly over the property of a 3rd party with a camera equipped drone, and the drone flying code of conduct says drones must not be flown within 50m of buildings and people other than the operator.
I think the rural bit is part of the current restrictions on their testing than a limitation of where they could go. Ditto I think the current 2 customers is that it must be in sight of the backup pilot for the duration. The interesting question is how much testing are they going to have to do before those limits are lifted.
"Are CAA fines tax deductible?"
Dunno, but you really don't want to know how angry I am to have been fined for being late submitting some official documents in Italy and having to pay VAT on the fine.
 Five years after the event and it wasn't me that was late submitting the documents.
I've just realised that urban deliveries are probably not the target for this. The Amazon van man can drive past a dozen customers in half a mile of city driving, cheap as chips delivery. In rural areas, he's got a twenty minute drive to get to a single customer, then possibly the same again to get to the next. Pack in a few drones with a decent radius of operation and suddenly the single slow and expensive delivery man can be replaced and deliveries run in parallel.
Of course it helps that around here where Amazon are testing, the landscape couldn't get much flatter.
This feels like a nice gimmick, but clearly not practical at the moment, and I don't think Amazon think it is either.
But Amazon appear serious about this. They've put some effort into those drones and the infrastructure around them. Basically they seem to be ironing out how such a system works in the expectation that the efficiency, range and carrying capacity of the drone will increase over time with improved battery tech.
It feels like one of those long bets that won't pay off for a good few years, but they will be ready if/when it does.
* They will never be safe in an urban environment
* They will absolutely *have* to operate out of visual range, to be remotely useful (no pun intended)
* Drones with more than a few scant miles' range are still not feasible (and the bigger they are, the more dangerous)
* It's only a matter of time before one drops on or near something important, like a playground
* Or brings down a helicopter, or runs into the side of an office building, or ...
* Amazon cannot carpet the country with warehouses, and the idea of a mothership truck driving around operating like an aircraft carrier is daft (if you're using the truck, why not drive to the address in the first place?)
* The expenses of maintaining a fleet large enough to be useful will be high
* Some mischievous types, or those legitimately irritated at invasion of their airspace, will take potshots (think air rifles, crossbows, bow and arrow) (no, I'm not justifying it: but if the human race includes f***tards who'll shine lasers at commercial jets, any stupid act that can be committed, will be committed)
* You may even nurture a criminal sub-culture specialising in potting drones and harvesting the goodies
* And I absolutely *guarantee* you a technical arms race between hackers and drone delivery operators ("Where's my new £400 phone?" "Sorry, the drone made an unauthorised landing somewhere near Acacia Avenue and neither it nor phone have been seen since")
The very first time someone is hurt, or a what-if crash occurs (e.g. the playground scenario), the whole idea will be dropped. Drones are not even an order of magnitude as reliable as civil aviation, so *either* they remain a very rare, pointless oddity, *or* they are used in sufficient numbers that accidents begin to happen. It's inevitable.
So I continue to believe that this is mostly an Amazon publicity stunt. Widespread use at today's tech level: plain irresponsible.
The government is quick to waste billions harvesting websites visited by 99.99% of the law abiding population, while the 'serious' criminals and terrorists use encryption which cannot be broken, and in the meantime it does absolutely nothing useful about drone regulation—and the useless bastards will continue to do nothing until, most likely, a few hundred people die when a 737 on climb-out inhales five kilos of steel, electronics, battery and the new hardback 'Fifty Shades of Drivel'.
Heaven forfend, but if it happens, I hope the plane is full of the fatarsed ministers who wasted time on authoritarian repression instead of genuine public safety.
"Delivery will be possible “within several miles” of Amazon's shed;"
Which is why this will never be useful in a commercial sense. The entire reason for Amazon's success, and that of online shopping in general, is they're able to have a small number of huge warehouses with a wide range of goods that can deliver to anywhere in the country, instead of relying on small, specialised local retailers that are only useful to those nearby. If they're reduced to small, local facilities with limited variety and amount of stock, there's no longer anything to set them apart from a regular shop. OK, there is one thing; it's possible to buy things heavier than 2kg in most shops.
"Delivery will be possible “within several miles” of Amazon's shed;" Which is why this will never be useful in a commercial sense.
You might want to look at the progressive build out of Amazon logistics centres before being quite so sure. And don't forget the "delivery stations" either. Chances are you're within a few miles of one.
I live in the (pleasantly) desolate rural/suburban wastelands south of Birmingham, and thought I was about fifteen miles from any sort of Amazon location. Did a search on jobs (the easiest way of finding out), and there's three different levels of logistics hubs easily within a ten mile radius, with the nearest about four miles away.
Amazon: They know where you live, and they're coming for you
The first drone delivery in the USA, approved by FAA officials was made, thanks to drone startup Flirtey in collaboration with 7-Eleven. It successfully carried and dropped off a chicken sandwich, hot coffee and donuts from a 7-Eleven store in Reno, Nevada
Tough, Amazon, that makes your delivery number two.
See: > http://phys.org/news/2016-07-donuts-flight-us-approved-drone-delivery.html <
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