Have you seen this clip of the Amazon blimp releasing a fleet of drones on Twitter? I have to admit when I first saw it I thought it might be a film of some new test of drone delivery. It looks pretty real especially at first:
Well, it’s been nice knowing everyone pic.twitter.com/WM5SW4oCb3
— Barstool News Network (@BarstoolNewsN) April 2, 2019
Sadly, Gizmodo reports the clip is a fake, the creation of someone in Hiroshima, Japan. However, the idea is based on something Amazon really patented:
The fake Amazon mothership was created by a video production artist in Hiroshima, Japan who goes by the Twitter handle zozi009. As you can see from their renderings, the Amazon blimp and drones were created using nothing more than a computer.
…it’s loosely based on a very real patent that Amazon was awarded in 2016.
The Amazon blimp is theoretically supposed to act as an “aerial fulfillment center” that sends out drones for package delivery. The idea, according to Amazon’s patent, is to deliver goods to large groups of people who are in a relatively small area, like at a sports stadium or music festival.
Here’s the wireframe of the shot created by the artist:
— zozi(厳島神社の人） (@zozi009) April 1, 2019
Even the design of the blimp was based on a real airship created by Lockheed Martin:
A lot of the people reacting to the image saw it as dystopian with plenty of references to Skynet, the Umbrella Corporation, and other dystopian futures from science fiction:
— Wilbur (@willinders01) April 2, 2019
Here’s the clip mashed up with audio from Blade Runner:
— Daniel Solis (@DanielSolis) April 2, 2019
This reference was a bit more obscure but my kids liked this show:
Lazy town tried to warn us pic.twitter.com/j5f0SwF3aT
— Uriel Villegas (@urielvillegasv) April 2, 2019
While I’d enjoy a version of this synched to Rush’s 2112 (“We have assumed control.”) it’s not actually that scary. Eventually, drone delivery does seem like something that will be a real premium service for people who need something delivered same day. I can envision all sorts of problems arising from that, everything from people stealing the drones to drones accidentally dropping on houses. But the problems don’t seem insurmountable. I guess I’m assuming Amazon will make it happen when it becomes economically feasible. And we’ll all be happy about it, at least those of us who like the free market and don’t see big companies as the enemy.
But one thing this video does demonstrate is that the image of big floating fulfillment centers in the sky gives a lot of people the creeps. Amazon may want to reconsider that portion of the plan. Of all the problems drone delivery would entail, the problems of human psychology seem the least likely to be solved.