Surveillance cameras could be attached to drones to prevent theft
Paul Joseph Watson
December 2, 2013
A UAV expert has warned that Amazon’s ambitious policy to deliver goods to customers using drones will result in the devices crashing into people.
During an appearance on 60 Minutes last night, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled the plan to use fleets of Octocopters to deliver items weighing up to 2.3kg to customers within 30 minutes of an order being placed online. Deliveries could be made to locations within a ten mile radius of Amazon fulfillment centers.
The drones are powered by electronic motors and can keep functioning even if one of the motors fails. Bezos said that the drones are capable of delivering up to 86% of the company’s products and could be operational within five years.
However, Dr Darren Ansell, an expert on unmanned aerial vehicles from the University of Central Lancashire, told BBC News that the technology is not yet sophisticated enough to prevent the drones from crashing into people and other objects.
“The UAVs do not currently have the awareness of their environment to be able to avoid flying into people. To deliver goods to people’s homes for example in residential areas, the UAVs must overfly densely populated towns and cities, something that today’s regulations prevent,” said Ansell.
“Other things to consider are security of the goods during the transit. With no one to guard them the aircraft and package could be captured and stolen,” he added.
During his 60 Minutes appearance, Bezos himself admitted that the most difficult aspect of launching the project was ensuring that the drones “can’t land on somebody’s head while they’re walking around their neighborhood.”
As we have previously reported, FAA safety testing of drones found that due to their lack of sophisticated collision-avoidance systems, the devices would routinely crash into other objects, even in airspace where no other aircraft were operating.
While the safety aspect is obviously something Amazon has many years to work on fixing, concern will inevitably shift to whether or not the drones will double as surveillance tools.
One solution to the problem of parcels or the drone itself being stolen is to install surveillance cameras on the devices, an idea that is certain to cause a privacy uproar as we move closer to 2015, which is the date when FAA rules governing the use of drones on a widespread basis are expected to be implemented.