i swear it’s not going to become all drones all the time around here but skyjack is an interesting proof of concept, “…engineered to autonomously seek out, hack, and wirelessly take over other drones within wifi distance, creating an army of zombie drones under your control…” by taking advantage of the fact that none of the 500,000 parrot ar.drones sold since 2010 come with wireless security enabled ( and it looks like the maybe even though it’s running embedded linux the atheros chipset can’t run wep )? whoops.
not content to let amazon prime air get all the attention the UPS is working on delivery by drone where they will shuttling packages from one UPS location to another and still be delivered by a friendly human. and google lets the cat out of the bag that the guy behind android is working on a humanoid robots ( see what they did there ) that would most likely in the short term be used for supply chain automation perhaps by shuttling around packages in flying cars that they may – or may not – be stealthily building. and for short hop delivery the humanoid androids could jump in a personal jetpack. will the humans accept our brave new an automated logistics system?
the news of amazon prime air is not all that surprising. jason kottke predicted it almost a year ago while riffing on john robb’s dronenet post. the use case amazon touts of getting packages into customers’ hands in 30 minutes or less is actually the least interesting case or, more correctly, might be a classic red herring. amazon is building major fulfillment center locations within a 25 – 50 mile radius of the top 20 major metropolitan markets in the US to use efficient 3rd party fleets for same day delivery of purchases. i gather it knows that using drones to compete with 3rd party fleets for one time outbound delivery for purchases will never make economic sense. but what if it expects purchases to eventually make many round trips and that you’ll want to schedule those trips within 30 minutes – think easy access to a “closet in the sky”. in building those distribution centers, amazon will have excess storage capacity that it can use to offer “storage as a service” for purchases – i.e. real world “cloud” storage. sound crazy? makespace is already doing something similar in new york sans drones and wants to become the dropbox for real life. makespace is working on a way give friends access to storage so they can borrow from your makespace box. i assume amazon could do something similar and eventually develop a service platform for larger scale resource sharing as it creates the uber for everything. the class of purchases where this would work today is small. print books and a bookshelf in the sky is one place to start.
“The agency projects that 30,000 drones could be in the nation’s skies by 2020.” that’s 8 years from now and i’ll bet they are off by at least 100%. chicago is getting a bunch in advance of Group of Eight (G8) and NATO Summits in may 2012.