Is Amazon Building the Virtual Shopping Future?
Bill Quick

The Amazon Future | TechCrunch

Jeff Bezos revealed something that truly would revolutionize e-commerce and online ordering, should it become widely used: automated air delivery drones that could deliver 86 percent of the goods Amazon ships to customers today (packages under 5 pounds), in less than 30 minutes in many cases. That would be a huge change to business as currently conducted by the Amazon giant, and it would mean the end of retail as we know it.

This notion is taking a lot of flack – mostly from people with the imagination of toadstools – and yes, I can see some potential problems.

But the notion of near-instant delivery of goods ordered via online means is not only obvious, but inevitable.  Way back in the 1990s I wrote a novel called Systems, in which I envisioned people shopping from home in virtual reality “stores,” and then getting near-instant delivery of the goods they purchased.

I envisioned people being able to walk through virtual stores in much the same way they do in brick and morter stores today, and make their purchases that way.

I still think we may see something like this, by the way.  People still like to shop and browse in “real” stores, and then make their actual purchase from online venues.  I eventuall expectd the two experiences to converge.

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Bill Quick

About Bill Quick

I am a small-l libertarian. My primary concern is to increase individual liberty as much as possible in the face of statist efforts to restrict it from both the right and the left. If I had to sum up my beliefs as concisely as possible, I would say, "Stay out of my wallet and my bedroom," "your liberty stops at my nose," and "don't tread on me." I will believe that things are taking a turn for the better in America when married gays are able to, and do, maintain large arsenals of automatic weapons, and tax collectors are, and do, not.


Is Amazon Building the Virtual Shopping Future? — 3 Comments

  1. I foresee many post-mass-production applications in the future. For instance, you keep your measurements on file on a website, where you can go, choose exactly the style, color, and material for any clothing you wish, and the cloth is laser cut, sewn, and delivered, giving custom tailoring rather than off-the-rack. Or you go to a car dealer who has just one of each of the models for test driving, and you then order the model you wish, in the exact color and with the exact options desired, and the custom car immediately begins on the assembly line, to be delivered in a few days. 3D printing and CNC milling machines mean many things can be custom manufactured in the future.

  2. Some of my friends have commented that it would never work, but I think that it can certainly work, with a couple of minor modifications.

    Bezos says that the drone would be sent to a GPS coordinate; but GPS isn’t good enough for that, and doesn’t provide for any security. He’ll need to incorporate an “Amazon Prime Air” homing beacon. You’ll plug your homing beacon (which is pre-configured to be usable only with your Amazon Prime account) into your PC’s USB port. When you order something using Prime Air shipping, Amazon’s server will encode your beacon with a one-time security identifier. You will then be instructed to unplug your beacon and place it in a clear landing area.

    The drone will follow public roads at 300 ft AGL to your GPS coordinates and then homes in on the beacon; your beacon will text your phone or PC will a delivery alert when it is dropped off on or next to your beacon. If the drone doesn’t find your beacon with the proper security code, it will return to base with your package to be delivered next day.

    Security; you can put the homing beacon in your back yard, or even on a large enough balcony.

  3. Anyone who thinks this is going to work in the near future should consider the range, weight lifting capability, and battery lifetime of the kind of toy helicopters you see in convenience stores as a starting point. Then consider how much a book weighs, how big a drone would have to be to carry it, and how much fuel it would take to fly loaded for up to a half an hour and empty for the remainder.

    This will probably come someday–altho I’d expect 3D printers to obviate drone delivery–but there’s no way this isn’t Bezos trolling CBS right now.

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