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Laura Kessel is managing editor of The News-Herald in Willoughby. She writes a weekly column and shares her thoughts here.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Look, up in the sky: That's no bird, it's my purchase!

Bad Laura!

I’m a little angry with myself for missing the biggest shopping news since the first store opened.

On Sunday night during CBS’ broadcast of “60 Minutes,” I was wasting time watching some lame holiday special on a channel I normally don’t watch.

I should have been tuned in to see unveil its plan for shipping its many goods around the world.

Yes, CEO Jeff Bezos announced that the company intends to employ drones to make its deliveries.

But don’t get too excited. They’ll only be able to deliver within a 10-mile radius of Amazon’s distribution centers.

Where’s the closest one to us here in the Cleveland area? It appears to be Indiana or Pennsylvania.

So, no dice.

For now.

But, as “60 Minutes” was still airing, Twitter and Facebook were giving a real-time look at how quickly people’s brains were processing the many other applications for the technology.

A firefighter friend pointed to a discussion of delivery of relief supplies in an emergency.

A newspaper friend suggested drones might be able to deliver the paper in the morning. And, since Bezos just recently bought The Washington Post, I’ll be looking for this idea in the next few weeks.

Other friends focused on more conveniences it could provide — fast food delivery, prescriptions called in by the doctor arriving on the doorstep of the sick person, and the elimination of tedious trips around the grocery store.

My concerns lie not only with the lack of participation for those of us in Ohio.

Both Indiana and Pennsylvania have the weather flux we endure here, so I wonder if rain or freezing rain or sleet or snow or wind or lightning or tornadoes or hurricanes cause grounding that will delay the arrival of goods?

If they just slow down in these everyday occurrences, how does a five-day drone wait beat six-day standard shipping?

I know what you’re thinking — one day better. The worth in that case would depend on the cost, I’m afraid.

How many people are going to lose their jobs because of the drones?

If we follow the logic of my friends and their invented uses, it could be a whole lot of them.

If the drones catch on like, well, Amazon did, then we’ll be dodging boxes all day long as we’re moving about town.

What’s in them will be anyone’s guess, but the thing they’ll have in common is that a human being used to handle them.

How much information do they have about me?

It’s Amazon, so they already have my credit card number saved from a purchase I made in 2010. Even though I’m pretty sure I told them not to.

But are they collecting data on me and storing it along with pictures of my neighborhood?

Guess it doesn’t really matter that much because Amazon isn’t alone in the drone dream-world. Turns out UPS and Google also are studying the idea.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

The drones would certainly eliminate an annoying issue with deliveries — drivers’ habit of parking wherever they feel like it while delivering a package. Blocking walkways, or parking in turning lanes on busy city streets is nothing to them.

A fly-in and drop-off by a drone would definitely clear up traffic.

So, as this technology takes shape, I’ll be anxious to see how soon I’ll turn from looking up information on my delivery via computer to looking up in the sky for my package.

Check us out, one step closer to that world the Jetsons promised us so long ago.


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