Put mysterious parcels in the sky, and weird stuff is going to happen.
Amazon has been given permission by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to test parcel delivery drones in the UK, which could mean autonomous flying robots could be delivering your bulk batch of cat food sooner than you think.
Trials are due to start imminently in rural areas near a research and development base in Cambridge, and will see special Amazon pilots operating drones remotely without a direct line of sight, the Telegraph reports. The drones themselves will test Amazon’s “sense and avoid” tech that lets them automatically avoid obstacles in the air.
The drones take off and land vertically, but when they’re airborne they fly horizontally like an aeroplane, carrying packages weighing up to 5lb. They can fly for a modest 10 miles at an altitude of 400 feet, which is comfortably higher than the average UK rooftop, yet low enough to not interfere with flight paths.
Amazon chief exec Jeff Bezos told the BBC that the drones would be capable of 30-minute deliveries, and could be available for wider use in 5 years.
But while the idea of instant parcels from the sky is the dream, there’s definitely scope for some awkward flying robot mishaps. The best kind of mishaps.
1. Crows pecking open your top secret parcel
Particularly awkward if it’s above your neighbour’s garden. And contains your order of 1,500 live ladybirds, or that pair of novelty Handerpants you’ve always fancied. Have fun explaining that one to the attractive single at number 32.
2. Your neighbour shooting down your drone
We’re picturing a real-life Admiral Boom from Mary Poppins, taking down parcels from his roof like a crazed neighbourhood watchman.
3. Your drone choosing an obscure place to drop your parcel
Will it know that your chicken coop in the back garden is NOT a safe place? What if you don’t have a garden? Does it just drop your parcel on the street? What if it drops it on someone’s head? Who is liable? Is it OK to laugh if it knocks out that annoying kid who lives opposite? We need answers.
4. Wind blowing your drone to hard-to-reach places
A tree in the local park. Through the window of an office block. France. We’re just saying, weirder things have happened.
5. Your drone stealing your cat
“Fluffy is in a better place now, where there are beautiful blue skies and birds for him to watch all day long. No seriously…he’s in the sky.”
6. Receiving a complimentary bird’s nest with your stationery order
Baby blackbirds appearing at your doorstep atop their cosy drone house is a Disney dream in the making. Bring on the drones!