|Flying Overhead in Your Neighborhood??|
While today's drones (multi-rotor devices) could deliver a 5 pound (2.3 kg) parcel over a distance of about 10 to 20 miles, it would be a recipe for disaster. Such a drone would probably weigh 20 pounds by itself and would have multiple single points of failure and would encounter naturally occurring hazards.
Single points of failure in today's drones: battery, motor failure, blade failure, control system failure, sensor failures, body mechanical failure. Natural hazards: excessive wind, trees/houses, flagpoles, inflatable gorillas on top of car dealerships, rednecks with shotguns, birds. The probability of having a failure or encountering a natural hazard is probably around 10% today, and would cause a 25 pound object to fall around 100 feet onto an open area hopefully, but possibly a person, car, building, or road. The outcome: death, injury, or major property damage. This would be a godsend for all the law school graduates who are unemployed allowing them to become "drone-chasers", but I doubt insurance companies are going to let Amazon launch their fleet of flying package drones to overcome these obstacles.
Drones will revolutionize some industries quickly:
- Surveying buildings, structures, and other objects with some form of human control in a controlled environment. No more climbing towers, roofs, hanging from ropes, flying helicopters or planes.
- Searching for people that are lost in remote areas using pre-programmed patterns and infrared detectors.
- Triggering controlled avalanches in ski areas by dropping explosives before the thrill-seekers hit the back-country slopes at 11am after a hard night partying.
- Flying surveying missions for mining companies and pipeline countries to find minerals or pipeline issues in remote areas.
- Disaster recovery missions where helicopters are not available or it is too dangerous.
- Defusing or detonating terrorist bombs under human control.
The main theme is that you want to stay away from populated areas and if not, have some form of human oversight and management of the situation. So if you drive a truck and deliver packages today, you will not be hanging up your brown shorts and steel toe shoes anytime soon.