Look. Up in the sky. Itís a bird. Itís a plane. Itís SupermÖ no wait, itís just an Amazon drone delivering the waffle iron I ordered.
While it may sound far-fetched and just plain crazy, if Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has his way, the online mega-retailer plans to start a new service in the future called Prime Air, which will use unmanned aerial drones ó or big toy helicopters ó to deliver packages to its customers.
Dominoís Pizza also says itís flirting with the idea of delivering its cheese and pepperoni-laden products by drone.
Despite how futuristic it sounds, drones are certainly nothing new.
The U.S. military has been using them for years in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, where the remote-controlled gizmos have done everything from stealthy aerial surveillance and delivering supplies to blowing up/assassinating enemy troops.
Closer to home, criminals have tried using drones to smuggle contraband like cell phones and drugs into prisons. However, guards got a teensy bit suspicious when they observed a tiny helicopter with a package duct-taped to it hovering over the prison yard (um, yíthink?).
But while it may be perfectly OK to fly drones around war-torn countries with little to no infrastructure, it is currently illegal to have them zipping around major North American cities and towns loaded with copies of Fifty Shades of Grey or a steaming Hawaiian pizza. So far the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved drone use domestically by police and government agencies (like border patrols), but is holding off on giving the OK for commercial uses.
The concern is that right now, unmanned drones lack the capacity to realistically avoid things like buildings, trees and peopleÖ plus it would pretty much make our skies a little crowded if they were filled with hundreds of ícopters flitting hither and yon delivering soup ladles and magazine subscriptions everywhere.
Bezos said the tech will likely only take off in four or five years when regulations ease up, which left many cynics (myself included) thinking the only reason the story broke now was to get Amazon splashed across every news outlet right in time for the holiday. After all, the story came out on Cyber Monday when folks are buying stuff like mad from online retailers like Amazon.
But itís likely only a matter of time before drone delivery becomes a reality, though, and when it does, Iíll be waiting ó binoculars, shotgun and butterfly net in handÖ because who doesnít like free pizzas?