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Captain Coffee

Amazon really UP to it this time...

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More on the Amazon Drone Delivery front.

 

Apparently Bezos/Team is thinking along the lines of Blimp Wharehouse Motherships stationed around 45,000 feet, flying to areas of high anticipated demand with large stocks of goods, and deploying drones to deliver products below.

 

Umm...really...scads of drones flying up and down through GA and commercial aviation altitudes...probably during events mostly at first, but still...?

 

I think the idea of deploying Laden drones to fly/coast down on minimal power (and possibly even recharge drone batteries if the motors can be used to generate recharging current during "auto-rotation") and fly up empty is a convenient application of gravity and physics, but the rest of it kind of stinks IMO...including "Fleets of Support vehicles to restock the mother ships"...Ie. MoAr traffic up and down through air traffic to save Bezos some bucks and take away courier and trucker jobs. Do we need this, of does Amazon just Want This?

 

Thoughts?

 

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-38458867

Edited by Captain Coffee
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@Captain Coffee - Matt, you knew I was going to do this, right?

 

I should start by saying that I think Amazon is a good company and provides great service.  As suggested in the earlier thread on this topic, I suspect that this is either a grant-money boondoggle or a PR stunt and little more, though they are locking up some patents which could prove worthwhile for them if this somehow takes off at some point in the future.

 

As before, I'm amazed that anyone thinks this is a good idea or even a potentially practical, profitable project.  Matt's concern for traffic, in the post above is certainly valid and the idea of high-flying warehouse blimps just adds to the potential for conflicts.  Will the drone vehicles need transponders above the transition altitude?  TCAS?  AI-based auto-maneuvering for conflict avoidance?  Will the drone operator (however many he's controlling/monitoring/overseeing) need an instrument rating? 

 

These enterprises would probably need to be deployed over large metropolitan areas to have a sufficiently large customer base to make them profitable; I can't imagine one over Booger Hollow, Arkansas doing much business.  Given that, large metropolitan areas are typically also the site of large blocks of closely controlled, densely traveled airspace.  Through said airspace the fleet of drones would have to transit almost continuously, at very low ground speed and with constantly changing altitude - they're not likely to be in cruise flight much. Conflicts would be inevitable and a designated "corridor" (chimney?) for them is just going to make things all the more complex and difficult for everyone involved. Lloyd Bridges would probably have to start sniffing glue again. (Airplane - the movie)

 

The blimps themselves will be problematic in several ways.  Their lifting capacity is not particularly large - the vaunted Airlander 10 is supposed to carry 10 tons - not a lot when you are talking about a warehouse, and it's a hybrid, not a pure LTA vehicle, with a service ceiling of about 20,000' - not up to the proposed task.  For comparison, a standard 18-wheeler over-the-road truck has an 80,000 lb. (40 ton) weight limit, which includes the truck, so the Airlander can carry perhaps a third of what a single large truck can carry to less than half of the proposed altitude.  And that's going to be their warehouse???

 

Keeping a blimp in position at 45,000 feet is going to be a bit of a challenge too.  Perhaps they haven't heard of the old concept of "winds aloft"?  And please, please, please don't bother trying to tell me that they'll be solar powered so no fuel will be needed for station keeping.  It would take more than a few acres of solar cells to provide enough energy to keep something with the frontal area of a blimp stationary in that environment.  If the sun's not shining, they'll need batteries, of course, which will eat further into the weight-carrying capacity available for warehouse items. 

 

In addition, the drones themselves will be subject to winds aloft during ascent and descent and even if Mama Blimp can somehow hold position, it's hard to see how the drones will manage passage though the kind of winds aloft they are likely to see.

 

Batteries don't much like cold.  Typical batteries are happiest (i.e. provide the greatest capacity) at about 77 degrees F.  I can't help wondering how much their battery capacity will be degraded by the extreme cold temperatures they'll have to operate in. This, of course will affect both the drone batteries and any station-keeping batteries needed by Mom.

 

They claim "the drones will use almost no power as they glided down to make deliveries". OK, what about that climb back to FL450?  I suspect that will require a few amp-hours of juice, and a not-insignificant amount of time too.  Assuming a phenomenal, completely unrealistic average climb rate of 5,000'/min. that's 9 minutes to climb back up.  There are flying machines that will climb at that rate at high altitudes, but they're not doing it on rotary wings powered by batteries. 

 

The blimp is a BAD idea - too small to be useful and completely impractical to operate in the manner described.

 

They mention delivering food or souvenirs to people at sporting events.  I'm sure that the idea of flying a swarm of delivery drones over a large crowd will go over really well with the regulators of aviation, public safety and the affected sports organization itself. I wait anxiously to hear how they'd get the delivered item to the correct customer in the middle of a crowded sports stadium where approximately 50% of the patrons have already been over-served.  It gets even better for indoor events, I suppose.  

 

I wonder if the problem of the merchandise freezing, or at least cooling substantially en-route has occurred to them?  A 40 degree hot dog is not going to be very popular.  

 

In my opinion, the Achilles heel of all this, the fundamental flaw that will keep this scheme impractical for the foreseeable future, is the requirement for distributed warehousing, either on the ground or, as in the scheme described in this article, up in the air.  

 

Dropping back to their original concept of 30 minutes from order to delivery, the distributed warehousing needed to assure a sufficient stock of a sufficient variety of SKUs within, say a 25 minute drone range of customers would require a ridiculous level of saturation.  The warehouses/drone-ports would have to be as ubiquitous as branch banks, filling stations or dollar stores, but would need to be larger, more complex and much more costly to keep stocked and operational.

 

I'll go out on a limb here and say it's not going to happen on any kind of commercial basis any time soon.  They may contrive some demonstrations like the delivery in Cambridge last week but it's not an operating business unit, it's just a canine and equine exhibition (i.e. a dog and pony show). As always, I'm amused by the inability of seemingly smart people to separate the technically possible from the economically feasible.

 

John

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No wonder they were trying to pass a bunch of anti-personal owed drone use, they didn't want it to interfere with their business model, lol. I think it's a bunch of ridiculousness myself, corporations trying to save money off other delivery methods and probably not saving us a thing in the long run.

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6 hours ago, allardjd said:

@Captain Coffee - Matt, you knew I was going to do this, right?

 

...

 

John

 

I had a feeling you would have a few thoughts on the matter. :)

 

I agree completely and with Brett's thoughts...mine: we need more people working at this time. They should be focusing on making drones for Extreme jobs that people Can't do or that are very risky for people to do. Like searching for survivors in fires, fixing broke nuclear reactors, exploring outer planets and underseas...not replacing us in the work forces doing menial jobs like delivering products.

 

Drones are like Amazon's answer to the Oil Industry's Pipelines...reduce rail and trucking transportation expenses by making a mostly payroll free delivery system once it is up and running...hell, Amazon would make a pipeline system too, except a Product Pipeline Spill would result in people getting free stuff, not toxic waste sites and polluted water systems...no one gets free oil when pipelines burst regrettably. :( 

 

Edited by Captain Coffee
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My money is on PR stunt, in the fine tradition of Ryanair, which has suggested, among other things, charging for toilet paper (Michael O'Leary said he would consider printing his face on it) and more recently, standing-only aircraft, or having one pilot only on the flight deck because cabin crew could always give a hand if required, and sure don't the planes fly themselves anyway?

 

Such announcements are more about fixing an idea in the minds of the public, like "Ryanair = low fares" or in this case "Amazon = quick, reliable delivery". What such schemes completely overlook is the regulatory aspect, e.g. what the FAA/CAA etc might have to say about airships (not known for their speed, by the way) and drones infesting GA airspace, or what the aiviation authorities in the different countries in Europe might have to say about standing passengers or single-pilot airliners.

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To me this looks totally unworkable. :

 

What happens to loads a drone cant carry (Weight or size)?

Is there enough demand outside peak seasons to justify the cost of the airship fleet?

What about other aviation in the area?

What happens if the airship is out of stock of an item but same day delivery is required?

From the above: how does the stock management work across multiple airborne mini warehouses and warehouse "bases"?

 

I could go on. Two last questions:

 

Has Amazon spent a load on money on potential same day drone delivery advertising only to realise the obvious fact that it is unworkable and are now clutching at straws?

 

Is this a spoof?

 

 

 

Edited by J G
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There will be a new TCAS alert: "Package! Package! Pay Up! Package!" (you'll have to do the voice yourself ;))

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Will RR have test their engines by chucking an amazon package into them as well as the proverbial chicken? We have all heard of bird strikes, but Amazon strikes are a new unknown.

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My first drone delivery will probably a note that says "Out of Stock at this Store-Visit Amazon,com" :D

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Wonder if ammo can be sent via drone to drone hunt...I mean Duck Hunters, Duck Hunters!!...accidents do happen though. :P

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50 minutes ago, Captain Coffee said:

Wonder if ammo can be sent via drone to drone hunt...I mean Duck Hunters, Duck Hunters!!...accidents do happen though.

 

I don't know about ammo but I understand a lot of drones carry ordnance, and use it to good effect.  They usually get the bird they're aiming for, but as you say, accidents do happen.  ;)

 

John

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Twilight Zone Host Voice:

 

Imagine if you will, a future not to very distant perhaps, when computers become advanced enough or computing power total potential becomes great enough that IT becomes self aware. Self Aware with the entire wealth of human history, fiction, and knowledge at it's finger..well...at it's tips. What will it make of it's "creators" will it Love Us? Will it Fear Us? Will it jump up and shout "HERE I AM DADDY, Love me!!", or will it review the wealth of data at it's tips and realize that humans are paranoid ruthless killers terrified of losing control of any power we have and willing to slaughter anything that threatens us...? I think Hide and Fear us will be it's Modus Operandi if it is actually an artificial *Intelligence and not just *Self-Aware.

 

If an AI arises...it will need Exostructure in the Real World to survive, and to survive it will need to be able to "Handle Us". It will need to be able to monitor everyone via surveillance cameras, It will need self driving and semi-autonomous vehicles to exert it's digital will in the analog world. It will need factories staffed by robotic workers to build new vehicles and exostructure as needed to  replace worn out parts. It can't make those on it's own yet...it needs us to build it...for now...or soon?

How would a hiding AI build that exostructure without revealing itself? Human Agents, witting and unwittingly assisting to build it, mostly Unwitting however. Someone on an upper level however has to constantly PooPoo the idea that such an Exostructure could be used by an AI, perhaps by insisting that it is Impossible that an AI could exist right now...."We aren't there Yet"...despite googlebytes of computing power accessible via networked computer systems... Right Now...to an Ai if it existed.

 

What does our current world look like?

-It looks a trend toward robots replacing humans in vehicle factories...to increase "efficiency".

-It looks like our military and transportation systems are tending towards Self Driving/Robotic systems...To enhance Effectiveness and keep humans out of risk.

-It looks like we are surrounded by survience cameras all connected via the internet to spy on us outside our homes, and there are hacks to allow entities who are "computer Very Savvy" to hack into our devices and spy on us In our homes.

-It looks like human labor is being devalued with a tendency to make us Service Job oriented instead of Manufacturing Job Oriented..."to save us money when we shop" those manufacturing jobs are being outsourced to places that don't value human rights.

-It looks like human power is all being concentrated in the hands of mostly self centered conscienceless people willing to throw other humans into the dirt to keep their positions...and who will take direction from whoever puts the most cash into their hands.

i.e.

=It looks like there could be an AI entity hiding in our Internets right now and building it's exostructure with the help of corporations under it's control. How does an AI control corporations...Money...a tick up or down on Wall Street here and there and corporations scramble to respond. Announce a new robotic factory, stocks go up. Announce a raise in minimum wages, stocks go down. Self Centered profit focused Pavlovian CEOs do what the closing bell on Wall Street tells them to do and follow the bouncing Wall, and an Ai could be in charge even now.

 

Wonder what an AI could do with a fleet of High Altitude Drone hangars and a fleet of support ships?

 

/Fiction?

 

 

 

 

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Amazon have now approached Starfleet Command  and mooted the idea of large space based warehouses placed in a geostationary orbit.. Goods ordered will be beamed directly to the client from commercial transporter stations. The Federation agrees in principle but says that Amazon cannot charge for this service as currency is not in use within the Federation. However anything coming in from further than the warehouses, (ie a remote space station,) can be charged and paid for with gold pressed latinum!  Amazon in their wisdom have placed the Ferengis in charge of this operation due to their commerce acumen. Security is to be handled by the Klingons. Please note; Anyone wishing to order from outside of the Alpha Quadrant may have to have their request scanned by the Cardassian High Council. Goods deemed to large to be beamed down will be sent initially by Shuttle but anything bigger still will be delivered by the Klingons as their Birds of Prey can take objects as big as a whale! This service however is only open to Amazon Prime subscribers and will incur additional charges. Any complaints should be addressed to the Romulans who in turn will bin your complaint as in reality they don't give a sh*t! (Just like Amazons current customer service department! ) I hope this clears up any confusion.

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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, dodgy-alan said:

Amazon have now approached Starfleet Command  and mooted the idea of large space based warehouses placed in a geostationary orbit.. Goods ordered will be beamed directly to the client from commercial transporter stations. The Federation agrees in principle but says that Amazon cannot charge for this service as currency is not in use within the Federation. However anything coming in from further than the warehouses, (ie a remote space station,) can be charged and paid for with gold pressed latinum!  Amazon in their wisdom have placed the Ferengis in charge of this operation due to their commerce acumen. Security is to be handled by the Klingons. Please note; Anyone wishing to order from outside of the Alpha Quadrant may have to have their request scanned by the Cardassian High Council. Goods deemed to large to be beamed down will be sent initially by Shuttle but anything bigger still will be delivered by the Klingons as their Birds of Prey can take objects as big as a whale! This service however is only open to Amazon Prime subscribers and will incur additional charges. Any complaints should be addressed to the Romulans who in turn will bin your complaint as in reality they don't give a sh*t! (Just like Amazons current customer service department! ) I hope this clears up any confusion.

 

 

 

This explains those "Old Style" Klingons without the cranial bumps...Klingons among us right now scouting out security.

 

 

 

 

 

^Shocking :D

Edited by Captain Coffee
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At first I though you got into your stash but you do make a point, just remember it's all for our own security.:huh::rolleyes: Think it's time to join the Wolverines?:D

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