It wasn’t long ago that drones were seen as very controversial due to their use by the CIA to kill people believed to be enemies of the U.S. Despite the fact that dead is dead, how they got dead (missile from the sky or knife in the back) seemed to become more important than by who and by what authority. It really gave drones a bad name.
For those of you who’ve been hiding under a rock (actually not a bad idea) we’re not talking about male bees. Drones are a term used for pilot-less, remotely controlled aircraft and have become a staple of our government’s spying and military agencies.
Just when you thought is was not so safe to go outside, along comes the package delivery industry on a mission to rehabilitate the much maligned drone community. Recently Jeff Bezos discussed Amazon.com’s future use of drones for delivering packages with CBS’ 60 Minutes (watch it here). It turns out Bezos is not alone and not necessarily crazy in that FedEx and UPS are doing their own drone delivery research. I’m certainly not opposed to the idea in general, but I do have some serious questions about the details.
How will they know where to put the package? Today sometimes they leave it at my garage door, sometimes at the front door and sometimes at the side garage door. How do they get close to the house? Hopefully it won’t be decided for the convenience of a landing spot or they’ll end up in the middle of my drive. You know what happens then. Who has the liability for a new Android tablet with tire tracks on it?
And what about pets? Last week one of our cats left a rather large, dead rabbit at the back door. Will I be finding mutilated drones lying there with it’s cold dead little drone claws still hanging onto my package… stained with drops of machine oil? It could happen.
If drone delivery is the wave of the future, I wonder if the US Postal Service is doing similar research. They’ve been whining for years about being forced to deliver to “the last mile” so maybe this is their answer. Although… I don’t want to be around when one of their overworked, pissed-off drones goes postal. That could get ugly.
In the end, these are but small issues. I’m assuming these drones will have cameras, so my bigger concern is, will FISA (the secret US court that manages the Patriot Act) blank check the NSA to hop a ride on these babies like they have my cell phone and computer? If they can force Verizon, AT&T, Google, Yahoo and all the rest to hand over data on us without due process, then Amazon, UPS and FedEx will be next… if not there already.