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Urban Drone Delivery Systems?

I am certain that widespread urban and suburban “Drone Package Delivery” is a system that will never be implemented. It is an urban legend/myth that is perpetuated only for its publicity factor.

Technically, it is possible. So is the flying car. They are both in the same category. Technically possible, feasibly impossible.

Imagine a kid running out the front door, smacking into a drone hovering a few feet off the ground with sharp knife blades at eye level spinning at 20,000 RPM. (The propeller lift system)

It is also (at present) a one package per trip system. Drone size is dictated and limited by fixed and absolute aerodynamic and power requirement factors as well as the residential environment of this type of delivery.  All powered helicopter type flying devices are inherently energy inefficient. That creates a totally non cost-effective system. The required infrastructure of maintenance, control, crash recovery, liability, obstacle avoidance, anti-drone gunfire; just the things I can think of in just a few seconds; says it is totally un-doable at the scale being imagined.

The flying airspace is not a free environment. The FAA (et al) are going “bonkers” over managing a safe flying device system of control and drone management with today’s urban air traffic at 400 feet and higher. Delivery drones require total air space management down to ground level, everywhere.

 It can work in very controlled demonstrations and closed system special environments. It’s the “golly-gee!” factor that publicists love. The ones who get paid by the column inch doing tech and pseudoscience propaganda they can push to the naïve general public.

Remember the old (supposed) Postal Delivery moto? “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”  This is NOT the official US Postal System moto but think what these conditions do to any free flying (drone) activity.

No doubt drones are here. I have two. But they cannot and will never replace the “at the doorstep”, human presence home package delivery system.

Then consider: What is the point? Replace the human delivery person? Reduce delivery costs? Faster delivery?

For me, next day free delivery is unbelievable and probably not even necessary. It’s here now. A drone will make it better. Nope.

There will certainly be special situations where this technology is deployed. I say it will never be a general purpose and widespread home package delivery system.

I am sure there are many special situations where drone delivery can be fully justified. I invite replies if you can dream them up for me.

 

Stealthy Prime Delivery

A strange thing happened with a recent order of coffee from Amazon Prime. Invisible delivery.

As I always do, I placed a “next day” (for Friday) Prime order for my usual 100 count, box of “coffee pods” for my Kuerig K-Cup brewer.

I was down to a two-day supply about 5 K-Cups. No problem as delivery here in the Dallas area is very fast.

The order was processed very quickly. As usual, I started getting delivery updates via text message which again was absolutely normal. Text messages are an opt-in feature for prime members. Sometimes, it seems like an overkill of tracking. But it has become the expected norm in our instant communication abilities.

I have every notice saved in my iPhone. Thursday, 4:04 PM – Shipped (will be delivered Friday). Friday, 10:56AM – Arriving Today. Friday, 2:23PM – Delivered.

If it was delivered, it wasn’t at MY house. There is a link in the text message to the Amazon web site for “more information”. Followed that and the message there said, “Left in a secure location”.

I have a video doorbell recording all activity on the front porch. The porch is large and deep and qualifies as a relatively “secure location”. The only activity recorded was a trip by me to the mailbox out on the street and back.

So, I search around for any other “secure locations” Like behind the porch swing, in the bushes, on the porch roof, under the car, at the curb. Nope, no box of coffee on my property. It was definitely not delivered.

I go online to Amazon Prime to report the problem. They have now made it nearly impossible to report this non-delivery. An indication to me it must be a common event – screwed up delivery.

The recommendation in the on-line “help” page is to wait 36 hours for the delivery to show up after it has been reported as delivered. WTF?!

I eventually find (about midnight, Friday) an online Amazon Prime CHAT page where I can at least report the issue. It is an automated non-human chat board, where I am again told to wait 36 hours. I can feel caffeine withdrawal in my future. I have two Pods left for Saturday.

Saturday morning at 8:30AM, I put a letter in the mailbox at the street for the mailman to pick up. Mail is delivered inconsistently between 12:00 noon and 6:00 PM. (That’s another story). I check the porch again. Nope no delivery. I am now expecting Monday delivery. (36 hours) That mailbox trip was dutifully video recorded by my doorbell.

The front door is about five feet from my office chair. I have a window in my office that faces the porch entry. I am usually quite aware when someone comes to the door. The video doorbell always sounds a warning and makes a recording when someone enters the porch. Pushing the doorbell button is not necessary. In fact, the Prime delivery people seldom, if ever, push the button. I am sure they are experienced enough to know it is a video doorbell and they are being recorded. My trips out to the mailbox are always recorded.

I look out the door at 10:36 AM (still Saturday morning) as I hear the usual neighborhood activity, car doors, etc. There is a large glass window in the door. I look downward and low and behold, there is a brown box setting on the porch right by the door! Whoa!

Somehow, the Prime coffee delivery was just made!

That required traveling across the 15-foot video monitored area of the porch to reach the door, setting the box down and retreating the same 15-foot distance. I checked my recording. There was no alarm or video made of this delivery, sometime between 8:30 AM and 10:30 AM

How Dey Do Dat?

Must be a stealth drone delivery. (NOT!)

Do Prime delivery people now have a tool to cancel video doorbell alerts? I see them pointing a handheld device at the door (when they ARE captured on my video). I assumed it was, “The send delivery notice.” device.

Very strange. A fully 20-hour late delivery (or replacement delivery) and totally invisible. No video, no doorbell ring, no alarm, and not even a text message.

 

 

Mama and Ducklings in the Sky

Not actually in the sky, but it looks that way. We had a very heavy rain in the morning. Not a lightning and thunder, but a good hard rain.  The lake actually flooded and overflowed the banks. It was temporary and in less than an hour the lake was back to normal height. 

The day became very bright and clear and you can see the clouds that remained. I went to the edge of the lake to survey what the flooding may have done. Nothing of importance.

But mama duck brought her 5 ducklings over to introduce them to me. I assume she thought I was going […] Continue reading » Mama and Ducklings in the Sky

A “Small” iPhone Update

iPhone 4S

This iPhone 4S is again running at full charge. It’s now had its second battery transplant. Presently on its third battery since new in October 2011. Not too shabby for an almost eight-year-old phone.

The battery cost is between $10.00 to $15.00 depending on the tools ordered with the battery. Micro-drivers are necessary as well as good eyes and steady hands. Both of those are starting to run out on me, just like the old batteries. Ha!

That cost and a little effort sure beats the heck out of a large new phone that I don’t want or need. The new phones are like carrying around […] Continue reading » A “Small” iPhone Update

Fat MAC

The Apple MiniMAC computer has become my go-to first choice for my daily computer needs. It is equal for the tasks to any of my other machines except OS specific apps. I haven’t abandoned the Linux or WIN10 OS systems.

There have been a few quirks and I did suffer from an invasive trojan virus. So, the macOS is not bullet proof.  Firewalls are up and the fort is again secure. Just have to practice safe Internet access.

The folks at Apple are not shy about overcharging buyers for memory needs. Both RAM and SSD are grossly overpriced buying from Apple. The SSD in the MACmini is soldered […] Continue reading » Fat MAC