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Hidden Obstacles For Delivery Drones 215

An anonymous reader writes: A few days ago we talked over some of the difficulties faced by makers of autonomous car software, like dealing with weather, construction, and parking garages. Today, the NY Times has a similar article about delivery drones, examining the safety and regulatory problems that must be solved in addition to getting the basic technology ready. "[R]researchers at NASA are working on ways to manage that menagerie of low-flying aircraft. At NASA's Moffett Field, about four miles from Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., the agency has been developing a drone traffic management program that would in effect be a separate air traffic control system for things that fly low to the ground — around 400 to 500 feet for most drones. Much like the air traffic control system for conventional aircraft, the program would monitor the skies for weather and traffic. Wind is a particular hazard, because drones weigh so little compared with regular planes." Beyond that, the sheer scale of infrastructure necessary to get drone delivery up and running in cities across the U.S. is staggering. Commercial drones aren't going to have much range, particularly when carrying something heavy. They'll be noisy, and the products they're transporting will still need to be relatively close by. What other issues do Amazon, DHL, Google, and other need to solve?
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Hidden Obstacles For Delivery Drones

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  • by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Monday September 01, 2014 @10:34PM (#47803933)

    The problem where people have to be paid to deliver items. Like your postman, or courier drivers. Especially those pesky bicycle couriers in cities.

  • by Electricity Likes Me ( 1098643 ) on Monday September 01, 2014 @11:57PM (#47804227)

    The drone delivery thing seems like a proxy for the fact that the regular postal system desperately needs a revamp to include more standardization. Basically, we need some system which acknowledges that parcel and package delivery is an increasingly important part of the process, and we want to receive things unattended.

    You can only sometimes get this now.

    If we had a system where we standardized mailbox sizes to some specification, and then licensed out some NFC/smart card system to let postal workers/delivery companies open them, then we might be getting somewhere. Sure, it's not perfect and it wouldn't be everywhere at once, but if you could simply buy the relevant thing at Home Depot and then delivery companies could be expected to use it, it'd be progress. Then the free-market innovates from there: various multi-tiered security products or the like.

If it's not in the computer, it doesn't exist.