Amazon Drones: Fly Me!

From the messy desk of Paul Levine…

By now you know,  Amazon is experimenting with delivering packages to your front door by drones.  If you missed it, the video shown on “60 Minutes” is available on You Tube.  Now, The New York Times reports that Google  is developing “humanoid robots” — I love that term — that can hop off a Google automated car and deliver your package.  Take that, Amazon!

For some reason, I keep picturing the space alien Klaatu and his drone, i.e., flying saucer,  in “The Day the Earth Stood Still.”  (The 1951 original…not the Keanu Reeves remake).

the day the earth stood still
Klaatu emerges from his flying saucer in “The Day the Earth Stood Still.”

Back to those Amazon drones.  I like to think the vehicle pictured at the top of this blog is carrying several of my books to a waiting customer.  (Thirty minute delivery!  But hold your horses…or robots.  I have an idea.  I would like to delivered by drone.  That’s right.  I’d like to volunteer to be the first author dropped on a reader’s front lawn by Amazon drones.  Please, Jeff Bezos, make me part of the 99 cent Daily Deal.  (If the reader wants Stephen King, Lee Child, or John Grisham, they have to shell out $4.99).

When I arrive, I will attempt to entertain the buyer by spinning a tale or two.  Maybe the family will invite me in for a cup of coffee and donuts.

Because Amazon is The-Company-So-Many-Love-to-Hate, the drone proposal has already drawn flak.  My pal, the otherwise sane author John Ramsay Miller opined: “Not content with destroying business like book stores, Bezos has more job killing in store for the middle class.”  I have to disagree.  Amazon is merely ramping up the delivery business.  Local and chain stores will respond in kind.  If Amazon can truly deliver a $12 roller skate key (that’s what’s shown in the video) in 30 minutes, so can a local store.  (Does anyone still skate?)

Several Facebook friends have chimed in about the drone delivery proposal.  Veteran newsman Tim King predicts local TV stations will start using drones instead of helicopters to save money.  Retired journalism prof Tom Berner wants to start using drones for his photography.  Wisecracker Lynn Gard Price said, “Two words: Target practice.”

The Amazon drones may or may not come to fruition.  Either way, progress is sometimes frightening.  Buggy whip manufacturers surely did not like the advent of the mass-produced automobile.  But we adapt.  Companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google have changed the way we live…and the pace of our lives.

The Day the Earth Stood Still Poster

Nowadays, we take for granted activities that would have been jaw-dropping less than a generation ago.  A few days ago,  I received an email from OnStar, telling me that the pressure in my car’s right front tire was 31 pounds instead of the recommended 35.  That’s right.  Not only does the company provide me with a navigation system and satellite phone — useful when there is no cell coverage — but once a month, it runs a diagnostic check on the car and informs me of the results.  I am awed.

So there you have it.  Just be gentle, Amazon, when you drop me on that front lawn, and let’s avoid yards with pit bulls.

Paul Levine