Amazon Prime Air Brings Physical and Digital Divide Ever Closer
On Sunday Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, revealed plans to introduce Amazon Prime Air, a 30-minute autonomous quadcopter delivery service.
As Amazon continues to push the boundaries of technology to get us our goods within 30 minutes or less, social media has been rife with parodies. This, below, is one of our favorites:
Regardless of any fears of domination by machines, Amazon is on track to do something amazing. They are redefining how we interact with goods and services at a real, fundamental level by introducing new levels of technology into our lives. Automated helicopters with various numbers of rotors have been around for a few years. I’m a huge fan of the work at the University of Pennsylvania with automated drones playing the James Bond theme.
We are moving from a world where the physical and digital are increasingly integrated. With Amazon Prime Air, presumably people who live in major population centers would be able to order small goods and have them delivered before they could ever leave their homes and drive to the nearest mall. This gives Amazon a leg up, but it also changes how we interact with technology. The digital world will be separated from the physical world with only a 30 minute gap. Amazon is challenging Dominos for delivery dominance. It will mean physical retailers will need to integrate technology in a bigger way to bring people to their stores. There will need to be a greater reason for people to visit the store.
With change also comes new regulatory challenges. Current regulations over drones prohibit commercial use, and the FAA is rightly concerned both with safety and privacy. These are challenges that can be overcome if we work to address the necessary concerns proactively. The conversations on Twitter may currently be parodies of the Amazon drones, but in three to five years we will hopefully see a new generation of technology that brings us ever closer to closing the digital and physical divide.