Autonomous Delivery: Your Impulse Buys Will Still Be Safe

I heard a “Year in Review” program the other day on NPR with a BBC World Service panel discussion of what’s ahead for 2017. One prediction was that UAV delivery of packages would be commonplace this year, and as proof the commentator reported that Amazon had already had a successful test in the UK. But he expressed skepticism that it would ever be possible in the USA, where he said that “the first drone that goes over somebody’s property will be shot down and the goods will be taken.”

He seemed quite sincere about his comment, but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he was only joking to make a point, not actually grotesquely ignorant about the limitations of firearms or being snarky about gun owners in the US. Either way, he brings up a good point: when autonomous parcel delivery is commonplace, who will make sure goods get to the intended recipient?

Based on the Beeb’s quip and the tone of discussion in the comments of my earlier post on autonomous deliveries, it seems like the main concern is that without humans in the delivery chain, packages will be subject to pilferage. The thought apparently is that fleets of robo-trucks laden with goods or a drone with packages on board are easier pickings for criminals when there’s no human in the loop.

automatedfreightReally? With humans doing the driving, an estimated $30 billion is lost in the US alone to cargo theft every year. Can robots be much worse?

If you dive into the statistics on cargo freight, the first thing you notice is wildly differing tallies for the losses. This appears somewhat due to reporting methodologies — when a driver has a gun stuck in his face, it’s a strong-arm robbery; when a dock worker takes an envelope of cash to take a long break while a shipment gets loaded into the wrong truck, that’s more of a fraud case. And with multiple billions of dollars in “sales” every year, cargo theft is more of an organized enterprise than an entrepreneurial one – think MS-13, the Triad, and La Cosa Nostra. That results in a strong tendency for shipping companies to under-report cargo theft, perhaps reflecting the peculiar human desire to not end up very dead for squealing. Robots don’t care so much about getting kneecapped.

As more and more of the supply chain is automated, fewer humans will be in proximity to all that potential booty, which can only be a good thing. Humans are far more corruptible than robots, which will not be tempted to bolster a low-wage paycheck or settle a score with a manager by nicking a package off the conveyor. True, a robotic package handling system could be programmed to divert a shipment into a suspiciously plain white truck, but that would still be a human crime, at least until we have AI in the supply chain.

But all this theft from the early part of the supply chain is probably less what the BBC commentator or the Hackaday community is concerned with. It’s a little too far up the chain, and impacts us only insofar as it drives up prices as manufacturers seek to recoup their losses. For us, what really matters is the final handful of miles between the shipper’s depot and our front door. How will autonomous delivery impact that?

Again, I have to think that the robots will do better. And this is coming from someone whose usual UPS guy is a rock star — dude literally sprints from the truck to my door, puts the package down gently, knocks and rings the doorbell, and is one of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. Still, if someone stuck a gun in his face and told him to get out of the truck, he’d go. He’s not about to lay down his life to protect a bunch of packages that UPS is insured for anyway. “Here’s the keys. Have a nice day!”

It’s an extreme example to make a point: humans do little to protect your package during that “out for delivery” phase, and with human fallibility are more likely to increase the risk of theft. A human UPS or FedEx driver might forget to lock the truck while heading up your walk with a package, for example. A robot won’t. And if someone did try to hold up or hijack an autonomous delivery vehicle, I’d think it would be far more likely that the robotic driver would follow an effective emergency procedure — lock the doors, call into dispatch, notify law enforcement — than the poor guy or gal that is suddenly thrown into a high-stress situation and can’t remember the number for 911.

And what about that very last phase of delivery, where your package is on the doorstep waiting for you to come home from work? Again, I think automated delivery offers a lot of advantages here. We already have smart parcel boxes (there are a few in the market like Pelipod shown below) that work with carbon-based delivery drivers, and having them talk to the delivery vehicle wouldn’t be much of a trick.

Bottom line: nothing will stop someone from getting your stuff if they want it and they have an opportunity to take it, or can create an opportunity through the use of force. But it seems clear to me that when fleets of autonomous FedEx trucks are plying our neighborhoods, or Amazon drones darken the sky with same-day delivery of our goodies, we’ll probably have less to worry about. It won’t stop the thieves from trying, but it will give them fewer openings with the humans out of the loop.

81 thoughts on “Autonomous Delivery: Your Impulse Buys Will Still Be Safe

  1. While one can anticipate many of the potential issues that these modes might raise, I suspect the worse ones will only reveal themselves when these systems are up and running. As for criminals, while most are rather stupid, there is a number of them with creative streaks and we will have to see there too what they make of this.

    1. Criminals will probably go from being stupid, uncreative, violent thugs to very clever software hackers who ‘convince’ drone deliveries to gently come to a stop and unlock the doors.

      1. What like the ones that infiltrate police stations as desk clerks and plant listening devices and wifi taps on computers, or the ones that make a façade for an ATM that reads cards and videos keypresses and uploads to a hidden device with radius of the façade, What about the ones that build blocking devices to steal keyless entry cars and steal and sell them overseas, would it be the same guys who create fake health food websites that then take credit card numbers and make huge amount of purchases quickly and disappear.

        Nothing is safe and I bet anyone on this site can think of at least 5 ways to bring it down and circumvent the protection.

        1. The simplest way is to launch your own drone at it and tow a small fishing net which will snag the props.

          If it drops down in a bad neighborhood, everyone just looks the other way while you loot the wreck.

          1. Pretty much anything that flies can be used a kite,balloon,ultralight,large scale RC plane,model rockets,a catapult etc.
            Also might be able to train a hawk or eagle to attack the drones and even rip off any cellular or GPS antennas.

    2. First thing, drong delivery will first need to decide were on your property to leave your package. Will appartment building create a drone LZ? If that occurs, I could see people keeping an eye out for a drong making a delivery to their neighbor. I guess we will end up seeing more cameras.

      I do see a plus for drone delivery in high crime areas. As a safety benefit to not having drivers getting mugged, though i suspect most expect payment online before the delivery takes place (at least I would….)

    1. And wouldn’t it be easier to rob a mail truck than shoot down a drone?

      The prison time would be much, much less, and you chances of getting caught would be a lot lower. With a drone, it’s being tracked by GPS and everyone in your neighborhood will hear the gunshot. With a truck, you can just grab what you want and take off.

      1. “With a drone, it’s being tracked by GPS”
        So? That will catch the criminal who is dumb enough to shoot one down in his own back yard. Any other would do so somewhere away from home and private. They would separate the package from the drone quickly and leave before anyone arrives to see what happened.

        “everyone in your neighborhood will hear the gunshot”
        See above.

        I suppose if automated delivery is only done in the city and only for the last mile then it might be difficult to take down a drone quietly and unseen. If these things for even a moment pass into the countryside between cities… they are easy pickings.

        1. “Any other would do so somewhere away from home and private.”

          1. That’s not the assertion made in the article, where a Brit says it’d fail in America because it’d get shot down as soon as it flew over someone’s house.

          2. Care to be more specific? Do you think these drones are going to be flying hundreds of miles over wilderness? Anywhere along its flight path is going to be in/near a suburb or dense urban area. You’re not going to get much privacy when it comes to shooting a 12 gauge into the air in the middle of a suburb.

          “if automated delivery is only done in the city and only for the last mile then it might be difficult to take down a drone quietly and unseen.”

          And exactly how else do you expect a 30 minute flight time to be used?

          ” If these things for even a moment pass into the countryside between cities… they are easy pickings.”

          I’ll humor this concept that battery-powered quadcopters are going to fly hundreds of miles.

          1. What’s protecting a delivery truck from being robbed now?

          2. How are these thieves going to predict the flight path of the drone?

          3. Why in the world would a 10mph quadcopter be used for more than last-mile delivery? It’s a system to replace the bicycle courier, not the semi truck.

          1. All that is moot, because once the drones are launched in the hundreds around the city, they’ll be dropping out of the sky due to malfunctions anyways and they’ll cause property damage, loss of lives, and will be banned soon after.

            It’s a completely dumb idea.

          2. 100s of miles? Have you ever been to the US’s Midwest? We have 10s of thousands of little 1-2000 people villages separated by 4-10 mile wide strips of mostly farmland with some stands of trees. If you drew a straight line through it you would see that ever 3rd or 4th village is actually a slightly larger town and that’s where the shipping hubs are for the surrounding villages. I don’t know what the exact range of these drones are but I am assuming they must be quite a bit larger than our toy quadcopters or it wouldn’t even be worth the trouble.

            I would think that this is the kind of environment where automated delivery would make a lot of sense. It makes no sense to have a building and staff in each of these villages because there are way too many of them and they aren’t big enough to be worthwhile. On the other hand that means they are paying their drivers to spend half their day just driving from the town to the village or between villages while delivering nothing.

            As for replacing the big city bicycle courier? Is that really possible? First they have to make sure it isn’t going to hit a building or fall on somebody. Then they have to convince the regulatory agencies and the public that it is safe. Finally.. once they have passed all those hurtles drone shipping would really take off. How long would it be before there are so many drones traveling through the same space that collisions are unavoidable?

          3. They have a realistic range of about half an hour, so 15 minutes in and out. If the top speed is 60 and you take couple minutes off for the climbs and for safety, you get about 10 miles radius from the distribution center.

        2. People here seem to think anyone living outside city limits is some sort of gun-toting bloodthirsty bandit. I can assure you, we’re not all horrible people. Trailer Park Boys might be hilarious but it’s hardly representative. I’d imagine ghettos would present more physical dnger to drones than a rural area.

        3. Shooting the drone down would damage both the cargo and the valuable drone instead a thief would use likely try to catch it with a net or highjack the control signal.
          Doesn’t matter if you’re tracking it with GPS by the time the authorities arrive to check it out they would have disabled the transmitter and be long gone.

      2. I seriously doubt that the sentence for bagging a drone would be more than holding a human being at gunpoint. Nor are your chances of being caught. What are you thinking? Do you think that delivery trucks aren’t GPS tracked? And do you think delivery services don’t have procedures in place for what to do after you’ve been robbed???

  2. I never understood why people think they’ll be able to shoot down a delivery drone. Minute after shooting down a drone, there’s going to be a swarm of police dragging you out of your house in handcuffs, reading off charges of

    – Illegal firearm discharge (isn’t that a 10 year minimum sentence?)
    – Destruction of private property
    – Theft of private property
    – Reckless endangerment

    And for what? A free box of toilet paper?

    Contrary to what some countries seem to think, America does have laws.Just because you’re allowed to own a gun doesn’t mean you can just go shooting things and doing whatever you want.

    1. Well to be fair, you CAN go shooting things and doing whatever you want… There is just a steep penalty for doing so. Surprisingly, criminals don’t seem to care about these pesky “laws” you speak of. Shocking I know.

        1. Murder can be committed with an extremely wide range of tools. No act is a better display of creativity than the novel means of ending a fellow mans life. (That is not a happy thought, but it is historically accurate) As far is murder being cause for alarm – we all live with the possibility of death each day. I personally would prefer facing an attacker to a heart attack or aneurysm.

          My point was that criminals don’t care about the laws. They will own guns whether or not it is allowed, and will use said guns for whatever purpose they feel like regardless of legality. That is a worldwide truth. So to will be the event of some criminal trying to shoot down a delivery drone for a free box of TP. In this GPS-tracked scenario, at least we can pinpoint the idiots and take appropriate action.

          You made a good point. I was making a point about the nature of criminals, with a dash of sarcasm.

          1. “My point was that criminals don’t care about the laws. ”

            That’s a very naive view of criminals – or a deliberate strawman.

            Of course criminals care about the law – they’re not idiots. If possession of a gun lands you 15 years in prison, they won’t risk carrying guns for simple street crime. Laws don’t affect crimes of passion, but for the bulk of crime such as break-ins, car thefts, pickpockets etc. who do it for a “career”, people are very calculating about what they can get away with.

    2. Yeah, a gun is really the wrong way to go stealing from a delivery drone. GPS spoofing would be the way to go. No illegal firearm discharge, no destruction of private property, and only arguably reckless endangerment.

      1. You can shoot down an airplane, and the only penalty is 20 years of prison?

        That’s actually surprising. Depending on the scenario you could be talking dozens, hundreds of homicides.

      2. There’s no people on board so a judge may choose a lesser sentence as a jury may even refuse to give a guilty verdict as not to ruin someone’s life over a crime that did not seriously endanger anyone ie shooting down a drone over their own property with a shot gun.
        The law may even get changed to make the distinction of manned vs unmanned so people don’t get their lives ruined over the destruction of a glorified toy.

    3. -Illegal firearm discharge?
      -Reckless endangerment?

      Only within city limits.

      -Destruction of private property
      -Theft of private property

      Only if the culprit is caught

      -Minute after shooting down a drone, there’s going to be a swarm of police

      Only if drones never fly over the country side. Otherwise it should take the police some time to drive there.

      Of course.. in any other country the only difference is that if the thief is too slow to get away and the police do manage to show up before he/she is gone there is one more charge to tack on since it was illegal to own the gun in the first place. As if that is somehow more of a deterrent when simple destruction and theft of private property SHOULD be enough to put one away for a good long time.

      1. If we’re assuming sufficiently widespread drone use that delivery drones service low population areas and routinely fly over undeveloped countryside, wouldn’t we also assume the existence of rapid-response security drones equipped with long range cameras, night vision, and possibly even less-lethal weaponry? They could be deployed automatically with human operators taking over once they near the site of the incident.

  3. One problem is the landing zone. My local delivery drivers are very good about putting the package right at my front door or very close to it. An aerial drone is likely to want a clear marked area to land in the front yard (as was the case in the UK test). So someone either following a drone in a car or happening upon my house is more likely to grab a package that’s in the middle of the front yard rather than one that’s right at my front door.

    That said it wouldn’t be too hard to instrument the landing zone or put a camera on it, but that’s additional infrastructure.

    1. In the end that might start happening anyway. I can see folks putting up LZs outside second-story windows, or having delivery doors installed for surface robots, like the ones we used to have for milk back in the day.

    2. Amazon have started to install locker kiosks in pubic places where you can have packages delivered and drop off returns. I think this is more likely to be the path that drone delivery takes. A neighborhood LZ will be set up where packages are dropped off (having been picked up from a local warehouse by the flying delivery beast). They can then be transferred to wheeled-delivery bots for door service, or put in a locker for customer pick-up.

      1. Started? They’ve been around for a few years in the UK Mike, and they work really well.

        I actually had an interview for a place which makes/runs these kind of things – would be a really nice job for someone reading this site – they wanted people who would also look at home to maybe break into them, or re-use them in interesting ways too.

    3. Do you not have a back garden? Sure, not everyone does.

      But most deliveries are left at the front because the back garden is inaccessible. Obviously someone COULD jump my fence,…. but I back onto houses almost all around the block, so they’d have to jump at least 3-4 fences before finding a house with an alley down the side to let them back onto the street.

      I’d MUCH prefer deliveries dropped into my back garden than left out the front (though my amazon drivers are great, they wait to see us actually come to the door (and sometimes helpfully point at the floor where the package is! ;))

      The fact is, for some people who only have the front access, or are in high rise flats, are going to have issues with this – but these same people sometimes already have issues (how do large packages get delivered to a high rise anyway? left with a minder on the ground floor?)

      I honestly can’t see it being long if amazon et al want to follow this, that we’ll see ‘roof hatch’ type contraptions to allow dropping off of packages securely.

      In places like the US I’d imagine mailboxes becoming top loaded instead of front loaded – maybe with a ‘security’ signal from the drone. It’s already more secure than the mail man just opening the hatch (and anyone else even if it is a federal crime).

      1. The back yard (that’s what we call a back garden in the U.S.) sounds like a good idea. It’s not a big deal to add a thin poly bag if there’s a chance of rain. That’s how rain was handled with newspaper delivery, back when that was a thing.

        1. Yes, though newspapers weren’t delivered by flying robots that are vulnerable to rain, snow, wind, solar storms (GPS outage) etc.

          Especially in the city, the buildings and streets create strong drafts and wind tunnels that cause gusts to flip these drones around. You don’t want to put a landing platform outside the 7th floor of a high-rise building because changes are the robot’s going to crash in through your window when attempts a landing and fails.

    4. It would be far easier to follow a delivery truck than to find and track a drone in flight. It’s not like there’s going to be such a swarm of them that all you have to do is watch for a glint of sunlight reflecting off of one, or use passive sonar to catch one that just happens to be a couple blocks from where you are.

    1. Hmm… If you think that would make people NOT shoot your package then you really don’t get it.

      Here.. hold my beer.

      Bang
      BOOOOOOOOOOOM

      Yeah!! Now that’s what I’m talking about!!

  4. I suspect that should this mode become common, standardized flight paths will be established such that these drone won’t be overflying private property at low altitudes anyway and thus won’t provoke yahoos with shotguns to take potshots at them.

    1. Fitting homing-pigeons with GPS trackers demonstrated that, prosaically, they follow major roads and other obvious-to-humans landmarks. If the drone does the same for the most part, it would be over public spaces almost all the time.

      1. If the drones follow the roads then they’ll crash-land on cars and people and kill someone. If they avoid the roads they’ll crash land on buildings and cause fires or water damage etc.

        There’s just no version of the idea where you don’t have tens of kilos of drone and cargo dropping out of the sky on someone’s house or head. It’s going to happen as sure as the sun rises up in the morning, because even one in a million chance becomes a real problem when you have hundreds of drones and thousands of deliveries to make each day all over the city.

        Which is why flyind drone delivery is simply a bad idea. They’ll try it for a bit, and then get tired of paying the insurance premiums and lawsuits.

        1. The drones could have a ballistic parachute and maybe this should be mandated by law for aircraft over a certain weight limit.
          This would greatly reduce the problem of injury and property damage which could sink an operation with just a few high profile failures but might open up few new ways for theft as now outright disabling the drone doesn’t necessarily destroy the cargo.
          Still even increased theft is still far better then bad publicity and getting sued.

  5. Well, given that I went to pick up a tablet using reserve-and-collect yesterday only for it to turn out to Missing, Presumed Gone instead of in the warehouse like expected (and no others available in stock), that’s one thing that probably would have been safer if delivered by drone instead…

    1. This is why delivery companies can just drop things on your doorstep. The loss rate is low enough that it just fits within the cost of doing business. They probably even self-insure for “shrinkage”. This costs them less than waiting for someone to answer the door, and bringing the package back to the distribution center on nobody-homes.

      1. If the packet gets stolen off your doorstep, how do you actually prove that you haven’t got it?

        The post office or delivery company simply will not take responsibility for that. They’re not paying anything.
        That is the real reason why they can just drop things on your doorstep.

        If you don’t want your packet stolen, you have to put up a “Don’t leave packets” sign and they’ll leave you a collection slip.

        1. I’ve had EBay sellers refund or re-send me things plenty of times when the first one didn’t arrive. More often than not all it takes is a message stating that it didn’t arrive and the new one is in the mail a day later. No, I haven’t ever abused this. We get a lot of our neighbors’ mail and they often get ours and bring it to us. Sometimes I guess they don’t.

          1. That’s because the seller – not the delivery company – has paid extra to insure the packet. They then declare it missing and get the money.

            It works because the abusers get caught – lots of missing deliveries reported for the same address triggers an investigation, so while individual people might get away with it once in a blue moon, repeat offenders don’t – and in any case it’s not a problem for the delivery company because it’s the sender who pays the insurance.

  6. All it takes to intercept a delivery drone is a $50 toy with a net hanging under it, therefore it is possible that every street thug in the hood is going to be going after them. Easy pickings, and not at all comparable to robing existing systems. And you don’t need a gun to take out a drone, you just need a magnetron and power supply hacked out of a microwave oven, and some foil on a cardboard cone. A drone denial system could be installed into a roof space (with a blended in cover over it) and be very hard to detect, drones would just die if they got within range of that property.

    Delivery drones have more than petty thieves to worry about too, how many people live under no fly zones and still within the range of an economic number of drone launch points? There are so many problems with the idea that it is unlikely that they will even become a universal solution, in comparison to people in trucks. Autonomous trucks and compatible, secure, drop-boxes are far more likely to be viable on a large scale.

    The thing that will kill the delivery drone fad in the end will be the first significant murder or assassination using one, and that is just a matter of time. All it takes is one stolen Amazon drone and a package full of high explosives, you can imagine how the rest of it plays out.

    Mr Maloney, your problem is that you are a nice guy, and have not had to deal with a lot of really evil people, otherwise you’d know what they are predictably inclined to do. I’ve had the misfortune of having to work with genius level psychopaths at a leading university, so I do know what some people will do for profit. It isn’t the drones that are the problem it is the people, otherwise we could safely have gun vending machines on every street corner too.

    1. What he said!

      Too many people deny the existence of evil.

      What happens if ISIS can control a truck. Nice and Berlin had many people killed by trucks controlled by terrorists. Now we get “robo-trucks”. HaD already published “How to spoof GPS”.

      1. Not just terrorists, what about all the other criminal types? There are so many logical scenarios that are interpolations on existing behaviours with the drone being an enabler. Gangs will use these things to take and hold territory, then any drone they don’t trust will get taken down by them. The thing that drones are delivering is a huge can of worms.

        I’m confident that there are certain goverment studies, that are not public, which outline many of these risks, and take them seriously enough to also provide mitigation plans. Staying alive while keeping VIPs safe tends to prevent people from getting all starry eyed about new technology.

      2. Robo trucks would definitely be a bad thing from a homeland security prospective.
        it’s not just ISIS that would be the problem if they ever become ambiguous you might even have the types who bomb family clinics re-purposing them to deliver bombs.

    2. Yeah, those university pyschopaths are a lot scarier than the ones I dealt with daily for years in the back of an ambulance, or the ones that would shoot at us as soon as we showed up in the projects. Must be why I’m such a nice guy now, lol.

      Look, I get your point, and perhaps I didn’t make it clear that I don’t really put much faith in the milk of human kindness. I know that people will always be the hazard in any system. I pointed that out when I said, “[N]othing will stop someone from getting your stuff if they want it and they have an opportunity to take it, or can create an opportunity through the use of force.” But every criminal has to perform some kind of risk-benefit analysis to see if the crime is worth the potential time. I think robotic delivery – and it’s not just flying deliveries I’m talking about – will provide fewer points for criminals to leverage profitably. And if it’s not profitable, they’ll move on and find something else that is.

    3. It’s harder to shoot down drones electronically than you might think. It’s a square-law problem. You have to be close enough to the drone to hit the receiver with enough power to destroy it, not just temporarily overdrive it. Even GPS-guided drones can have inertial nav systems to cover short-term loss of signal problems.

      When I was in the USAF at a remote site in Alaska working on long-range radar systems with multi-megawatt pulse outputs into narrow-beam antennas, we had a guy who was a model airplane nut. Like the rest of us, he was bored to tears. He used to build airplanes and fly them into the radar beam. The planes would go out of control as the beam swept across them, but that was the challenge – to recover from this and see how close he could get without losing the plane. Basically, he would keep flying, closer and closer, recovering from the loss of control each time, until he finally got close enough to actually damage the receiver, which would be the end of that airplane and that day’s fun. He got VERY close, most of the time.

  7. It looks like most people are assuming that drones will fly at a relatively high altitude over occupied streets from a distribution warehouse. It would make much more sense to use autonomous land vehicles up to near the door and just use flying drones from the delivery truck to the door or other final location. The drones would then only be flying very short distances, not over peoples heads (generally) and not so high that falling out of the sky could hurt someone. This would also address the battery life issue, especially for relatively heavy loads. Also. the landing zone could be more constrained, maybe even a drone “garage” where the items could be secured, so there would be little opportunity for theft. Apartment blocks would be the place to start. Of course, autonomous land vehicles can be caught in traffic but that will get less and less likely as cities are filled with autonomous vehicles rather than human driven ones. As is already happening, you will often not need dedicated delivery trucks as a “Uber” style delivery service that combines human transport with package delivery could leverage the masses of self driving vehicles that will dominate in cities. In that case, the drone would be housed in the building and would come out to get the package, rather than the other way around.

    As an aside, I created a patent idea that has been filed by the company I worked for at the time to use IOT technology to store ownership details indelibly within objects themselves. If someone were to steal the item, they would have a hard time reselling the object and if found, the object could easily be shown to be stolen. I think it much better to protect goods throughout their life than just when in transit.

  8. Would you smash a locked box?
    Would you threaten to kill or actually kill another human being?

    Destroying robo-trucks to get the stuff doesn’t involve the threat of injury to actual human beings (billionaire Bezos might lose 0.00001% of profit).

    There might even be profit to “bash the robot to smithereens” entertainment venue in a mall. The robot can’t defend itself and you can keep bashing until you think it is the robot equivalent of death. Maybe you could burn it, take a chainsaw to it. There is no remorse for a machine.

    But consider a small case of animal cruelty, a dog starved, or a cat burned – for fun. OUTRAGE!

    I think it will be a teenage hacker thing to see who can jam or alter the GPS/lidar/whatever of the robotrucks and get them to crash into the median or a bridge abutment or go through a guardrail over a cliff.

    After all, it is just a property crime, not a violent crime.

    1. Young guys are blowing up ATMs in my part of the world all the time, for that reason, no human interaction emboldens them. These days I live in a low crime part of the world, but in the past I’ve lived in one of the most murderous cities in the world, so I’ve seen a lot and have no illusions as to what humans are like.

      1. Yeah someone should really just turn Detroit into a paintball park.

        Here’s another one.
        Build a crappy device with destructive powers and an altimeter gps.
        Sell on Amazon
        Not profit

    2. True it would largely appear as a victim less crime to most people.
      Since no one is threatened with physical harm it also would be hard to justify having a stiff penalty for the crime.

  9. I’m more in the ground drone delivery future. Much more doable, and using bicycle lanes. Ground drones have much better battery life, small risk of property damage and can be hardened from weather and accidental damage. On robbery all is tracked and can oppose resistance by keeping the goods locked.

  10. Spud gun will take down a drone too you know, no reason to assume a firearm.

    Or a net for that matter, or a broom.

    Anyway obviously flying drones will only be a thing, if they ever will be a thing, for more remote houses, where it would I expect be programmed to avoid going over other people’s property..
    But even then I really don’t think it’ll become big.

  11. Use a larger drone to chase and enclose the smaller Amazon drone. This will disable the Amazon drone and block GPS. Take the drone and package to some random area and hold it temporarily. Use the QR code on the package to extract recipient information. Contact the recipient and request a fixed release fee based on Air Rights. Nothing is stolen or damaged, not depriving anyone of their medications, and might even be defensible in court.

  12. My concern with regards to lots of courier drones taking to the air is a matter of scalability.

    One operator, might be workable… if and only if they can control everything that would be in their flight path. An errant bird taking a dislike to this propellered intruder is all it might take to send that drone crashing down, and given the tactics some birds of prey use, I would not put it past our feathered fiends to find ways to cause mischief. Then there are the humans… which I believe has been already covered.

    Two operators… maybe it can work, but there’d need to be some sort of co-ordination between them, and the usual air traffic.

    Three? Four? … More? Now things start getting complicated, as our skies begin to look like a scene out of Star Wars with lines of flying drones.

    The more that get involved however, the less this is the case… and believe me… if there’s money to be made, the cowboys will come. The sort that think maintenance is an unnecessary expense barring them from the profits they believe the world owes them.

    Knowing there’ll be fines levelled at what is quite possibly a throw-away shell company, only for a new operator to rise from the ashes, will be small comfort when you consider the amount of injury 2kg of drone plus payload can inflict on one’s head when dropped from ~100m in the air.

    Are we going to have to don hard hats when outside in case of raining drones? No thanks… Amazon may not exactly be quick with their delivery to this part of the world, but I’d rather just be a bit more patience than set a precedent that risks everyone’s safety.

  13. About Pelipod : Stupid ! In France the postman has a special key to open the letterboxes (PTT key) and so he is able to put the parcel in the letterbox even when the receiver is absent ! No need to have a box and a complex system with codes and electronic…

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