First, the RAND Corporation says you need many drone bases in your neighborhood so packages can be delivered to consumers faster and with less energy expenses for the drone owners. Now Wal-Mart wants to up the ante with a floating warehouse with drones on board for even faster delivery.
In February of this year, retailer Wal-Mart filed for a patent on a blimp-like craft that will cruise at an altitude to 1,000 feet (see figure below). The craft will supposedly house a stock of retail goods waiting for delivery and fleet of drones to deliver it. The aircraft could operate autonomously using, one might assume, some form of artificial intelligence or remotely via human hands. Since Amazon was granted a patent on a similar scheme last year, one might also assume there’s and air of competition, or retaliation – your choice.
You don’t have to be deep thinker to instantly realize there is a “race-for-space” issue here. If you relate back to the RAND opinion that we need several drone stations spread across every neighborhood so as to speed delivery and reduce energy costs, how many of these Wal-Mart and Amazon blimps will have to be suspended over US cities to be effective in keeping the population in a state of constant consumerism?
On that note, what about competition? Here we see two companies with similar ideas. Take a large state like Texas with several large cities and many smaller cities and rural areas. You figure it would take, and this is a conservative estimate, about 10 to 12 blimps to provide adequate coverage from one company, figure double those amounts with both companies in full operation.
Although modern capitalists seem to forget, or shun, the concept of free enterprise, what if some other retailers choose to do the same? Large, but local retail outlets should have the same opportunities, yes? So how many more zeppelins will be floating about? After that, there’s the numerous drones being launched from these balloons, making countless deliveries all day, and most likely all night.
The other consideration is all the merchandise that cannot be delivered by drone. Heavy and large packages will still need to be delivered by ground vehicles, i.e., trucks and vans. Of course, Amazon and Wal-Mart may have plans to drop large shipments such as kitchen appliances and furniture from these balloons using parachutes. Hey, they used to drop tanks out of planes during World War II that way, why not your next baby grand piano?
Taking this from the philosophical and psychological side, there’s no need to kvetch about this situation because humans seem to need balance in their lives. Right now, the US roads experience bumper-to-bumper traffic 24/7. Once the skies are also filled, we will have achieved perfect balance, right? ~MD