Amazon’s Prime Air drone delivery service is a long way from reality thanks to regulators, despite all the hoopla such as this video. And now the Patch newspapers say the area 30 miles around Washington’s Reagan National Airport might end up as a “No Drone Zone”  for Amazon along with others. I’m in Alexandria, Virginia, well within the area.

While I live in an apartment building, there’s a nice patch of green near by where Jeff’s drones could land if the feds and state officials let them. I’m not exactly crestfallen but still was looking forward to the service if/when it happened. Isn’t this great? Close to Ground Zero for an H-bomb attack on D.C.—and no Prime Air drone service before I die. Think how much fuller a life I could have lived with e-readers and SIM cards and other odds and ends able to reach me in minutes rather than days.

From Patch: “The airspace around Washington, D.C. is more restricted than in any other part of the country, according to the FAA. Rules put in place after the 9/11 attacks establish ‘national defense airspace’ over the area and limit aircraft operations to those with an FAA and Transportation Security Administration authorization. Violators face stiff fines and criminal penalties. DC isn’t the only area that is regulating its airspace. Pew Charitable Trusts notes in a report in September that several states have ‘no drone zones.'”

Related Pew item: Here.


  1. I hate the whole Drones for Amazon mindset. Hopefully the airport just south of me will keep drones out of my neighborhood, but I’d like the ban to be nearly universal. Leave the sky near to the ground for birds. Those drones for delivery, make drones for crime and terrorism that much easier to hide. What’s good enough for DC is good enough for little Mayberry.

    It say a lot—a depressing lot—about just how screwed up our society is that getting some little gadget in hours rather than days is more important that life-saving medical products (such as blood) and samples for lab tests. We’re shallow. We’re decadent. We’re self-obsessed. And Amazon knows it. A life-saving use is being neglected to make one guy—so he thinks—even more obscenely rich.

    Drones to hospitals and medical clinics makes a lot of sense, not just for the speed and cost savings over packet delivery, but because many have heliports and most have flat rooftops that could be used. Not so, Amazon package delivery to homes. That’s sheer madness.

    Where’s it going to leave that package? It can’t fly onto most porches and stash it out of sight like a UPS driver can. And it if leaves it in the middle of a yard, Amazon might as well put a flashing “steal me” strobe on it. The very fact that it’s there makes it easy to spot and safe to steal.

    And how will safe landing spots in yards be surveyed? The drone can’t really see power lines, so they’ll have to be mapped. It’ll have trouble seeing many trees in winter, so they’ need to be surveyed every few years. And who’s going to pay for that, particularly since it’ll need to be done by hand?

    My hunch is that the drone idea and that for self-driving cars says more about geek billionaires funding the research than it does about good sense. Scrawny guys, their arms and legs rendered pencil-thin by sitting at a desk, resent the strong, hairy-chested guys who drive semis through blinding snow-storms and lug 60-pound packages up steep steps. They regard them as untermensch—subhuman and want to rid the world of at least a good-paying job for them. These schemes are driven mostly by resentment against blue-collar guys, one that isn’t confined to just geek billionaires.

    Fortunately, the technology for both, along with Google’s global balloon networking, with bomb as utterly as the commute by a airplane/car combination that was chatted up in science magazines just after WWII. Their rationale—that the war had taught a lot of men to fly—failed on one critical point. All those techno-pundits didn’t realize that most of those who’d flown in WWII didn’t regard the experience with fondness. My dad didn’t fly in the war. He merely rode C-47s around central Africa, which was risky enough. But his experience was so bad, he refused to fly commercial aircraft until well into the 1960s. That’s not the stuff from which fly to work is made, and that’s ignoring how much more complex flying is.

    Semi-truck and delivery van drivers could explain to these geeks a host of reasons why automated driving and drones make no sense. (A Toyota executive who knows also recently did that.) And anyone with a scrap of sense knows that a balloon-supplied Internet is sheer madness. Two-thirds of the planet is oceans where few will live. Balloons there will be doing nothing but waste Google’s money. And the rest will go where the prevailing winds take them not where anyone wants them to go. There is a solution, but its one people who’ve had to deal with real communication issues understand not office-bound geeks.

    End of rant…

    –Mike Perry, KE7NV (so yes, I know a bit about communication)

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