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eBay CEO Calls Amazon Drones a 'Longterm Fantasy'

By - Source: via The Verge | B 21 comments
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eBay is going to stick with current delivery methods for eBay Now.

Early last week, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced that his company plans to use drones to deliver customers' packages as soon as the FAA gives the green light. While Bezos admitted that the FAA represented the biggest challenge, Bezos vowed that Amazon Prime Air "will work and it will happen." However, if you ask eBay CEO John Donahue, what we can do today is far more important than what might be possible down the line.

"We're not really focusing on long-term fantasies, we're focusing on things that will change consumers' experience today," The Verge quotes Donahue as saying during an appearance on Bloomberg TV.

One could argue that Jeff Bezos' goal to get Amazon Prime Air up and running by 2015 isn't all that far off, but eBay already has human drones working to deliver packages within an hour of ordering via eBay Now. 

Amazon's not the only one eying up drones for deliveries, though. UPS and DHL are also exploring the possibility of delivery packages via unmanned drones.

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  • 9 Hide
    clonazepam , December 10, 2013 1:13 PM
    Well... he sure can't say they are a great idea, can he?
  • 0 Hide
    qlum , December 10, 2013 2:09 PM
    Thing is however great drones could be with a battery life of 15 minutes on average for the small commercial drone and with collision detection and pathfinding being how it is now we are still way off efficient drone transport.
  • 5 Hide
    vaughn2k , December 10, 2013 4:08 PM
    Time to prep my snare/s and try to catch one of those.... :D  :D 
  • 0 Hide
    goodguy713 , December 10, 2013 4:47 PM
    I like it personally .. I would imagine that he would be willing to spend the funds required we are talking about a guy who funded a 10000 year clock and found a space artifacts.. where no one else could find them. He's no pretender ..
  • 0 Hide
    southernshark , December 10, 2013 4:52 PM
    The drone deliveries are a fantasy or a PR stunt. Think about it. Amazon would need tens or maybe hundreds of thousands of drones flying around all the time. Not only would it be hard to pull off, but the drones would quickly be seen as a public nuisance. Additionally, the greenhouse gas costs of these drones would be very high. Even if they are electric, the energy still has to come from somewhere.

    I imagine that one day we may have driverless delivery vans, but I can't see flying drones.
  • 1 Hide
    baby281 , December 10, 2013 5:51 PM
    Better than charging us 10 percent seller fees. EBay never again.
  • 1 Hide
    UA67 , December 10, 2013 6:44 PM
    Why does everyone hate the idea of drone delivery? It is a great idea that will only improve amazon's great delivery service.
    "The drone deliveries are a fantasy or a PR stunt. Think about it. Amazon would need tens or maybe hundreds of thousands of drones flying around all the time. Not only would it be hard to pull off, but the drones would quickly be seen as a public nuisance. Additionally, the greenhouse gas costs of these drones would be very high. Even if they are electric, the energy still has to come from somewhere.

    I imagine that one day we may have driverless delivery vans, but I can't see flying drones."
    First off, this delivery option will be available to very few when it arrives considering the drones' range of about ten miles and the fact that they will take off from amazon fulfillment centers which are not even close to being in every city. They will not be a nuisance because they fly at 300 feet until they reach their destination. That's like saying that airplanes are a public nuisance. Also keep in mind, these "greenhouse gasses" that they are emitting are replacing actual green house gasses produced by big delivery trucks.
  • 1 Hide
    stingstang , December 10, 2013 6:57 PM
    I can see this working. Hell, the U.S. government can deliver "packages" directly where the person is at the speed of sound; even wait around for them to show up for up to 32 hours.
  • 0 Hide
    ta152h , December 10, 2013 8:28 PM
    As soon as one of these monsters comes crashing in on a human, and all things do fail, this will end.

    And since the USPS has to come to your house anyway, it's not like it's preventing driving accidents by eliminating them.

    This is just a stupid idea to get attention. It's succeeded.

    But, if it does succeed, eBay stands to make a lot of money off of it - I'll be selling portable FlaK to shoot these things down.
  • 0 Hide
    beoza , December 10, 2013 8:56 PM
    These drones will make for some good target practice for duck season. I can see paranoid people shooting these things down cause they think they're government drones.
  • 1 Hide
    hasten , December 10, 2013 10:02 PM
    Quote:
    The drone deliveries are a fantasy or a PR stunt. Think about it. Amazon would need tens or maybe hundreds of thousands of drones flying around all the time. Not only would it be hard to pull off, but the drones would quickly be seen as a public nuisance. Additionally, the greenhouse gas costs of these drones would be very high. Even if they are electric, the energy still has to come from somewhere.

    I imagine that one day we may have driverless delivery vans, but I can't see flying drones.


    Its my understanding these drones would use very little energy. Greenhouse gas cost? Let's consider my 2 day amazon prime 650D was just stuck on an aircraft, funneled thru a warehouse than stuck on a large delivery vehicle and I'd say ur argument is null... I know the drones aren't intended to carry a product like this, but many times I have had memory or a ssd delivered in the same manner.
  • 4 Hide
    hasten , December 10, 2013 10:10 PM
    Quote:
    As soon as one of these monsters comes crashing in on a human, and all things do fail, this will end.

    And since the USPS has to come to your house anyway, it's not like it's preventing driving accidents by eliminating them.

    This is just a stupid idea to get attention. It's succeeded.

    But, if it does succeed, eBay stands to make a lot of money off of it - I'll be selling portable FlaK to shoot these things down.


    I assume you reside in one of our wonderful lower states?
  • 0 Hide
    w8gaming , December 10, 2013 10:29 PM
    Quote:

    First off, this delivery option will be available to very few when it arrives considering the drones' range of about ten miles and the fact that they will take off from amazon fulfillment centers which are not even close to being in every city. They will not be a nuisance because they fly at 300 feet until they reach their destination. That's like saying that airplanes are a public nuisance. Also keep in mind, these "greenhouse gasses" that they are emitting are replacing actual green house gasses produced by big delivery trucks.


    If the delivery option is available to only few people, does it really make economical sense for Amazon to do this? Well, lets say Amazon is willing to lose money by exploring this as a test first before embarking on more long term scheme. There is still the question of the drone will have to take off, fly at 300 feet probably in a straight line, and then "descend" to make the delivery. Public GPS is only accurate up to a few meters, or 20 meters, depending on conditions. This couple with inaccuracy in mapping coordinates, could potentially make the delivery to the wrong spot. Pinpoint delivery to doorway or balcony is unlikely without human control and visual adjustment. It might even deliver to a few designated spot that the receipient is supposed to drive up there and make the collection, which defeats the whole purpose of using the drone in the first place. How about verifying the identify of the receipient? Or avoid hurting house pet or children with too much curiosity? Lets say all these issued are addressed, there is still the concern of the drones are being used as spying devices if they are equipped with camera. In fact, in order for drones from various companies to move safely, there has to be some form of coordinations in controlling the traffic, such as drones are supposed to fly in designated flight path and alert other drones of its present location to avoid unnecessary collision, and they are supposed to fly in designated zones which actual airplanes are not supposed to fly. Deviation from normal flight path will be monitored and possibly shotdown as a measure of ensuring the drones are not being used for terrorist attacks.

    There are simply too many issues that need to be addressed. I do not see delivery drones will be permitted to fly wherever they want. With so much constraints, will Amazon really find it cheaper to use drone for delivery instead of just using land vehicles?
  • 0 Hide
    virtualban , December 11, 2013 1:59 AM
    Humans consume food, produce greenhouse gasses, and require pay. The vehicles the humans use are crowding the path for the paying customers. Drones are more efficient in every single way. The downside of all this optimization (in every side of the human existence) is less people having a job (not everybody can be re-trained to the new qualifications needed for the new extra complicated jobs), and therefore less people able to afford the new commodities. But hey, the rich are getting richer, and that's all that is important, no?
  • 0 Hide
    dthx , December 11, 2013 2:55 AM
    As a pilot myself, I know how replaceable the pilots are nowadays... the US army drones are now reliable stuff, but I also knows that everything is much more complex in the sky...
    This is clearly a PR stunt. That none of the existing drones carry sufficient power to perform their tasks in an economic way is just a very small part of the problem. There are so many conditions I can think of that render a drone unreliable: rain, fog, strong winds,... small drones are not very capable devices: even an average wind gust can catsh it by surprise and smash it into a concrete wall just because it's not powerful enough to counter the gust.
    All the demos you see are carried out in optimal conditions that are simply not available 70% of the time. And I'm not even mentionning other safety hazards, coordination problems if the drones traffic becomes important, etc...
  • 0 Hide
    masterbinky , December 11, 2013 6:48 AM
    Thinking about it... Well... duh? Still they could refine their design inside their many warehouses and have it working well there for their benefit long before trialing home delivery.
  • 0 Hide
    ddpruitt , December 11, 2013 7:17 AM
    And that's way eBay isn't in the lead anymore
  • 0 Hide
    biohazrdfear , December 11, 2013 7:48 AM
    He just sounds mad. I'm looking forward to it! But of course, I'll have to argue my point with my "security and privacy freak" friends :) 
  • 0 Hide
    COLGeek , December 11, 2013 11:01 AM
    The delivery drone gimmick will never become a reality. Far too many variables to make it viable. Makes for great sci-fi discussions though.
  • 0 Hide
    CrArC , December 12, 2013 5:36 AM
    As awesome as it sounded, there's just too many problems with the drone idea. I fly these sort of things for fun. They do not have the range or lift capacity to be worthwhile in a delivery role. It would be MUCH improved if the drones were configured like a Boeing V-22 Osprey and could transform between VTOL and forward-flight modes. But the examples they used were generic multi-rotors, no good.

    Not to mention the automation - how will the drones map addresses to physical GPS coordinates? At best they'll get within fifty yards of the house they need to be at, going by address and postcode. Thereafter you're relying on this thing knowing what to look for in order to find the right address.

    Only way to solve it would be by requiring customers to input the "landing location" they want when they place their order. If you determine your exact GPS coords, it should be able to land within a couple metres of your front door.

    I really hope this becomes a thing, but I doubt it will, certainly not in 2015. Would love to be wrong though.
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