iPads from Heaven

DroneIts 5:30 in the morning here at Chicago’s Midway airport, it’s still dark outside, and I’m not at my best. I had to get up early enough to make time for a 90 minute drive from my home base, plus showering, shaving and grumbling my way through all that Homeland Security rigamarole. An hour ago I was wondering if it was worth having gone to bed at all.

But the coffee has kicked in, my plane is on time and the weatherman says my world will be 60 degrees warmer when I get where I’m going. Things are starting to look up.

So here’s a holiday thought for you. How will these new Amazon drones reshape our holiday shopping habits? If you caught Jeff Bezo’s announcement, or if you’ve seen Andreas Raptopoulos’ TED video, you’re already familiar with the basic concept. They want to create low cost networks that can deliver physical objects via drones, just as the Internet delivers data. In the Amazon version, a person would order something online, the robots at the Amazon distribution center would attach the purchase to a drone, and the drone would fly it directly to your doorstep. Instead of measuring delivery times in days, we might often be talking about mere minutes.

They’ll have to work some bugs out of the system first. Goodyear, for example, reports that their blimps regularly come home full of bullet holes. One can only assume that delivery drones would make equally tempting targets. The problem will only get worse when the marksmen realize that an accurate shot could reward them with anything from a free iPad Mini to a holiday sampler of sausages and cheese. (Provided that you’re shooting them down on the outward journey, of course. If they were returning to the warehouse empty they’d only be high tech skeet.)

The town of Deer Trail, Colorado, is so sure that people would enjoy drone hunting that they’re considering issuing drone hunting licenses. The vote won’t be held until April, but the polls are currently more than 7 to 1 in favor. At $25 the drone hunting licenses will be cheaper than a Colorado fishing license, and you’ll get a $100 bounty if you bag a genuine U.S. government drone. Not as lucrative as downing an iPad Mini, perhaps, but a pretty good ROI just the same. Deer Trail expects that drone season will be great for tourism. Read more about it here: http://www.inquisitr.com/1067162/drone-hunting-season-colorado-judge-says-lets-vote/

One way or another, the drone delivery networks will have to figure out how to handle flak.
Another networking idea is being developed by Google. They plan to provide wireless Internet access from high altitude balloons that will coast around the world on the wind. Balloons could bring affordable Internet to hard-to-reach locations like oil rigs, ships at sea and the far reaches of the Gobi desert.

All of this is good news for B+B SmartWorx. Helping customers expand the network edge is what we do best. Whether it’s drone season in Colorado or Internet balloons soaring over the Gobi, our customers will need things like rugged B+B SmartWorx Ethernet switches, fiber systems and cellular gateways to make it all work. We’re looking forward to some fascinating challenges, and to helping our customers answer some entirely new questions.

I’ve also had a few ideas about evasive tactics and maneuvers for loot-laden delivery drones. Amazon is welcome to call any time – I’m sure they’ve got my number.

Best wishes to you and yours for a very Merry Christmas and holiday season.