I’ve always been frankly sceptical about the idea of Amazon and Google using airborne drones to deliver orders. For one thing they have a limited payload (unless they’re intending to use those bloody great Reapers currently blowing up civilian hospitals in the Middle East). Secondly in the UK you can’t use them in urban areas, because of restrictions on use in populated areas.

Now things just went badly wrong. Starship Technologies was founded by the people who brought you Skype. Now they’ve brought you Roboshop, a six-wheeled drone that will deliver your shopping.

Well, let’s think this through. Limited payload, again, though 40 lbs is a reasonable size shop. They can cross roads using a combination of cameras, which is just as well if you think about it. Bloody useless otherwise unless you have your delivery on a golf course. The payload is in a locked box that opens when activated by, inevitably, an app on the recipient’s phone.

Or opens when some drunken hooray takes a liking to the idea of turning the drone on its side and jemmying the lid, presumably. By definition there’s something of some value in the friendly faced little box on wheels.

I can also foresee hoorays, skateboarders, BMXers, et al taking great delight in confusing the sensors and making the drones stop or go round in circles, just for the hell of it. I would, on principle, so I don’t see why others won’t. Also, things will come to a complete halt when Roboshop comes up against a group of OAPs completely blocking the pavement while discussing their piles.

Then any self respecting 4×4 driver (if that’s not a contradiction in terms) is going to have a field day trying to take these things out, again just on principle. It would be irresistible, wouldn’t it? Spang! and somebody’s baked beans go flying. How funny would that be? Very.

The round in circles thing is one I need to return to. The range on these drones is tiny, a mere three miles from the depot. Make the things take a few detours, and you’re going to end up with a lot of boxes with dead batteries. And unless you’re disabled, if you can’t be arsed to go three miles to the shops you’re an idler.

I’ve got my doubts about this idea. And as for the name of the company… It’s producing glorified milkfloats, not the USS Enterprise.

drone

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