2015-11-12 / Viewpoint

Keeping up with the Droneses


Rhonda S. Sanders — Reporter Rhonda S. Sanders — Reporter Cool! That was my initial response when a co-worker told me that Amazon is developing a service that would have drones deliver packages to our homes.

Drones are unmanned computer operated aerial devices that range from high-level military use to low-level consumer use. Amateur hobbyists fly them for fun outdoors but commercial use is blossoming. Walmart recently applied to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for permission to test drive drones for home deliveries and other uses. Google also has announced plans for drone deliveries by 2017.

My co-worker, my husband and a few others I asked dislike the idea.

Usually, I don’t readily embrace technology. I still use a flip phone that does not send or receive texts and that is one of many examples to show that I am not in a rush for drones to take over my life.

Yet I am enthralled by the vision of a little motorized delivery device helicoptering to my front porch to drop off my latest Amazon purchase.

I also can see how this could be a bad idea. If the drone crashed or somehow got hijacked, then my package could be damaged, lost or stolen.

I also don’t like the idea of camera equipped drones hovering uninvited around my house spying on me.

Even worse, the skies above could become crowded and dangerous with thousands of delivery drones buzzing over our heads. Are their electronic sensors harmful to birds, bees and other flying critters?

What about job loss for current delivery people? I have a lot to learn about how drones work. I have read that the FAA is very concerned about drone regulation and preventing problems for legitimate airplanes.

Proponents of commercial drones cite benefits such as faster deliveries and replacing humans in dangerous situations. Drones also have many creative uses.

Farmers use them for remote viewing to check on fences and livestock. Real estate agents are taking bird’s eye photos of property for sale. Drones help wedding photographers achieve unique angles. They’ve been used out on the ocean to photograph sea life.

Drones range in price from a cheapie DIY kit for about $20 to high-end devices costing thousands of dollars.

They are being sold at many readily accessible stores and are expected to be a top-seller for Christmas.

Some 700,000 drones will be under the Christmas tree this year, according to a prediction from the Consumer Electronics Association.

That forecast has the FAA anxious to get regulations in place to ensure that the devices are used safely and legally.

Technology has taken over so much of our lives. Like it or not, drones probably will too.

“Just as the 1970s saw the birth and rise of the personal computer, this decade will see the ascendance of the personal drone,” according to Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired magazine and co-founder of 3D Robotics. “We’re entering the Drone Age.” rsanders@mihomepaper.com

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