Amazon reveals plans for a drone super highway that will get you packages in minutes but change the skies forever.
On the Horizon:
A bird? A plane? Nope, it is a drone. Actually thousands of them above head. Amazon unveils a plan for a super highway for drones that could be a reality in 5 years or less, the vision unveiled Tuesday at a conference in Mountain View, California.
Amazon’s plan calls for a new zone for drones to fly 500 feet and below, divided into a fast lane and slow lane, depending on the mission of the unmanned craft and the sophistication of it. Basic, no frill drones (like the ones you can buy on Amazon) can fly 200 feet and below and the more fancy ones, like the ones Amazon or Google would fly, would fly in the 200-400 feet range. There would be a buffer the rest of the way to 500 feet (see photo, credit Daily Mail).
Amazon differs from federal agencies, however, in how it thinks the crafts should be able to fly over big cities. Amazon proposed that, in the fast lane, drones should be free to choose the most optimal route, including over big cities. NASA, however, thinks designated paths – like a bike path – should exist in densely populated areas to minimize damage in the event of a drone accident. Traffic would be routed by a highly sophisticated computer network, separate from the FAA’s current capabilities, that would choose the best path, taking into account factors like traffic, weather and topography.
You could get diapers delivered to your door by Amazon in 30 minutes or less? What if Google could just fly a drone over to provide internet connection to places it doesn’t exist? What if disaster relief could arrive in hours, not days, in the most needed places? The speed and cost effectiveness of drones will change how we live our lives.
With hundreds of thousands of drones flying around, they are a fixture here to stay that needs to be organized. The FAA, NASA and over 100 companies including Verizon and Google are dreaming up what the infrastructure should be to organize and regulate the drone population. We’re talking 5 years from now, a new super highway for drones. Are the days of kite-flying over? Does this mean bird casualties will be on the rise? Could our sunset views be littered with drones in the background? All are a possibility.
For the Early Adopters
If you already have a drone, be prepared for some changes in how you can operate yours in coming years. The Wild West will come to an end soon. As it should. Right now there are no regulations on where you can fly drones – they are running into the White House and interfering in firefighting efforts, and what’s to stop “big brother” drones from capturing images of your property, kids or you? The price for getting toilet paper to your door within the hour comes with some hefty trade offs.