Thursday, April 6, 2017

Fido, Fetch!



Amazon Is Using a “Simulated Dog” to Test Its Delivery Drones

Slate  by Sam Shead 4/6/17


 © businessinsider.com 2017

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

Amazon is using a "simulated dog" to test its delivery drones, according to IBTimes.

The e-commerce giant wants to use drones to deliver parcels to customers in less than 30 minutes but it clearly has some concerns about how dogs might interfere. At least one simulated dog is being used to "help Amazon see how UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] would respond to a canine trying to protect its territory," according to IBTimes.

Little is known about the simulated dog that Amazon is using and Amazon did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment. It's also not clear if Amazon created the dog itself or whether it turned to a supplier. The exact number of simulated dogs that Amazon has in its possession is also unknown.

Dogs being dogs, they're subject to chewing things to pieces. A drone landing in an excitable or protective pooch's garden may provoke the animal to attack and damage the drone and the goods it's carrying. Arguably more importantly, the drone could also injure the dog in the process.

Amazon is testing its drones at a rural site identified by Business Insider in Babraham, Cambridgeshire, and at several other secret sites around the world.

An Amazon drone concept design. Andreas Rentz/ Getty 
 
When we visited the Cambridgeshire test site, it appeared to have astroturfed "launchpads" at two ends of a large field but there was no sign of a simulated dog.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos revealed plans for Amazon drone deliveries, or Amazon Prime Air, in an interview on "60 Minutes" in December 2013. The conceptual drone-based delivery system is currently in development and a number of drone designs have been released.

The Seattle-based company claims the drones will be greener, cheaper, and safer than the vans that are currently used to deliver Amazon packages.

Last July Amazon Prime Air cofounder Daniel Buchmueller told journalists in London that the battery-powered vehicles can rise vertically like a helicopter up to 400 feet before flying up to 15 miles at speeds of 50mph. He said the company is creating 25kg drones that are highly automated and able to carry packages up to 2kg in weight, adding that there were more than a dozen prototypes already made.

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