Diary entry: Dec. 1, 2018
So it was five years ago today that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos made a big splash on “60 Minutes” by announcing that, someday, the giant online retailer would use drones to make its deliveries. We chuckled at the absurdities of the idea. We dubbed it a blatant, but shrewd, publicity grab.
Quadracopters! Looks more like a flying barbecue grill toting a Tupperware container.
But, as we know now, Bezos wasn’t kidding. By Cyber Monday 2015, delivery drones were airborne in the nation’s major cities. Soon, Amazon’s air force expanded its reach.
Oh, it was fantastic, for a while. I mean, suddenly, you realize that you desperately need a stainless steel garlic press or a laser golf range finder or a pair of Birkenstocks, in mocha suede, within the next 30 minutes. Twenty-one minutes later, a drone drops it in your driveway.
Or you’re on a road trip in the middle of nowhere, and the kids are begging to watch “Star Wars: Episode 11 — Disney Princesses Strike Back.” So you order it on a mobile device, a drone locks onto your minivan’s position and drops the movie through the sunroof. The sunroof!
This is truly a golden age, you’re thinking.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before other retailers got drones. Soon, the sky was darkened by their whirring legions. Birds began sticking close to the ground to avoid collisions. That was great news for cats. So Amazon expanded its pet products line to include Fat Cat-brand electric cat scooters.
Too many firms cut corners on drone quality, leading to malfunctions and “premature deliveries,” aka “Amazon bombs.” It’s not at all uncommon to be beaned by a best seller or plunked by a plunging pack of patio pots. More than one poor slob has been killed by a Kindle.
Competition, of course, is fierce. Most delivery drones are heavily armed. Walmart drones regularly shoot down Amazon drones. Target drones pack Sidewinder missiles. Pitched battles light up the night sky. Pretty.
Drones also collect lots of “marketing” data as they cruise the skies. It’s gotten pretty creepy. My wife and I were in bed, talking about repainting our bedroom. A few minutes later, a Home Depot drone dropped off paint samples. And they were perfect. Too perfect.
There’s been outcry for Congress to act, but, not surprisingly, President Trump is very reluctant.
Hey, gotta go. My drone-hunter laser-guided bazooka just arrived. By snail mail.