The FAA Just Approved Amazon Delivery Drones

Pet dog responding to a low flying drone.

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The FAA just approved Amazon to deliver packages by drone across the United States. But a small scale drone trial in Australia caused such a noise nuisance locals threatened to shoot the drones out of the sky.

Sounds like the black helicopters have come for us. Oh, just another swarm of FAA-approved Amazon delivery drones

Imagine everyone placing 30-minute orders for stuff all day. In fact, let’s turn to those who have lived under it

Tue 1 Sep 2020 // 00:02 UTC
Kieren McCarthy in San Francisco

Amazon has won approval to deliver packages by drone across the United States, meaning that customers could soon receive lightweight orders within 30 minutes but at a cost: drone delivery bots soaring overhead.

On Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gave the e-commerce giant the right to carry property on drones “beyond the visual line of sight” of the operator, meaning that it is able to deliver packages under five pounds in weight to anywhere it offers the service.

Amazon is actually the third organization to receive approval following UPS and Google’s Project Wing late last year, and there are another three applicants under review, according to the FAA, though Amazon is expected to be most aggressive when it comes to rolling out coverage given its sharp consumer focus.

In one notable trial run by Google in Bonython, Australia, a suburb of Canberra, hated the drones so much that residents organized together to run them out of town. While acknowledging it was very convenient to have super-fast deliveries to their homes, locals said the noise drove them, their dogs and local wildlife crazy.

Read more: https://www.theregister.com/2020/09/01/amazon_prime_drones/

Another register article lists the problems;

  • The drones are large and very noisy
  • They make a high-pitched whining sound and operate from early morning to evening
  • You can hear them from a long way off, both coming and leaving
  • When they do a delivery drop they hover over the site and it sounds like an extremely loud, squealing vacuum cleaner
  • They can be heard from inside closed houses, even those with double-glazing

The problem appears to be that while houses are good at blocking street noise, they are not designed to block noise from above, so drone noise goes straight through the roof into the living area.

The Register references a NASA study which hilights how annoying the noise can be.

From what I have seen there is no doubt drones drive pets nuts (see picture at the top of the page). I think it is the high pitched noise which sets them off. My dog chases and bites the lawn vac, which makes a similar noise to a drone.

I’m sure Amazon and other wannabe public drone operators are working hard to fix these problems, so it will be interesting to see how the coming rollout of next generation drones is received by members of the public.

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September 2, 2020 at 12:13AM

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