December 11, 2013

Amazon drones under attack


A snowy owl approaches its prey.

A snowy owl approaches its prey.

Nicholas Lund argued in Slate this week that Amazon‘s new drone program has underestimated its most powerful competitors. He’s not talking about publishers and collusion: he’s talking about birds and collision.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there have been more than 121,000 instances of bird-aircraft collision since 1990, and Lund reasons that Amazon should be taking the “environmental mayhem” factor seriously. Canada geese, crows, mute swans, red-winged blackbirds, European starlings, rock pigeons and double-breasted cormorants are common threats to the modern aircraft. Last week, even snowy owls were added to the list after an incident at JFK.

Mark Milian of Bloomberg News reports that Amazon’s drones “could be sitting ducks,” since their current design calls for eight exposed propellers, which could easily be attacked from the ground. Brad Plummer of the Washington Post joked that people’s deliveries could be easily poached:

Screen shot 2013-12-10 at 4.47.03 PM

The New York Daily News and The Mirror took this opportunity to share viral videos of German storks and other feathered fellows “dive-bombing” drones and quad-copters. Here’s one from the drone’s perspective:

Amazon drone delivery is for the birds.


Kirsten Reach is an editor at Melville House.