Plantations... of the Future!
Yes, you read that correctly. Jeff Bezos's latest brainchild is to launch an Arial Fulfillment Center in the form of a blimp, eventually reaching an altitude of 45,000 feet (or about 15,000 feet above the cloud deck). Then, once the orders come in via satellite signal, UAVs (Unmanned Arial Vehicles or drones) will then float down and deliver the package to your house.
Ars Technica called it a "demented" idea and at least one aviation expert wasn't too far behind, calling it "loony." But wait, it gets better.
So who's going to pick these orders and load the drones? You guessed it, minimum wage-earning temp workers like the ones here on terra firma. You see, Jazzy Jeff's idea is to import temp workers from Planet Earth in a shuttle sorta like what you see in science fiction movies. Then, considering the shuttle pilot knows what s/he is doing and actually docks and forms a pressurized seal, the flesh and blood drones will then cross a short threshold nearly nine miles above the planet and begin their frenzied days vainly trying to satisfy impossible quotas set by bottomlessly avaricious corporate management.
But, worry not. I'm sure Amazon will take total responsibility in the event this drone crashes or the fulfillment center becomes unmoored from the blimp, because Amazon has an impeccable record of doing so when one of their low-paid temps dies on the job.
The graphic is an actual one obtained from the Patent Office that shows how this Rube Goldberg contraption is supposed to work. Apparently, the fulfillment center carrying tens of millions of dollars of merchandise is to be suspended by a blimp by as little as 2000 feet above commercial air traffic, which typically flies just above the cloud deck at 35,000 to 43,000 feet. Then, after the living drones load the inanimate drones, they then float down to earth and will have your package sent to your house in as little 17 minutes, if we're to believe the results of a test run in the UK a couple of weeks ago.
(Not shown: The Flying Spaghetti Monster giving His Beneficence.)
The logistical problems pretty much guarantee this will be the worst idea in human history, sort of Crystal Pepsi, the Edsel and Ford Pinto rolled into one times 10,000. The primary problem the geniuses who'd dreamed this up don't seem to have hashed out in their Flying Spaghetti Monster schematics are the drones interfering with FAA commercial air traffic (not to mention military jets). And this neatly dovetails, pardon the pun, into the other logistical issue of the FAA's prohibition of drone pilots not having a clear sight line.
This is Jazzy Jeff's idea of combating the criticisms with which his original drone idea had met years ago, which was people shooting down the drones with bows and arrows and what have you and absconding with the merchandise. But this would only protect the warehouse, not the drones that still have to come back down to earth.
And heaven forbid Uncle Sam would ever approach a massive multinational corporation and ask them to do their patriotic duty and snoop on their own customers for the sake of national security and a few million bucks for their troubles. Or that said companies would ever be on board with such a scheme. Oh no, no potential for abuse there, comrades.
And let us not forget the stellar record private industry has in taking its first toddler steps into space.
This HG Wells/Rube Goldberg scheme has got failure written all over it in 45,000 bold fecal matter.