Amazon plans to use drones!!!

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Amazon plans to use drones!!!

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Re: Amazon plans to use drones!!!

Post by Kingfish » Dec 02 2013 3:07am

They had Bezos on 60 Minutes tonight talking about it; the Plan is many months, if not years away from implementation. They can't do it before 2015 cos that's when the FCC will allow them a license to operate. The drones will be electric and have a range of 10 or 12 miles, and is design for the 1/2 hour urban delivery service.

Seattle Times: Bezos tells ‘60 Minutes’ Amazon testing drones for delivery

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Re: Amazon plans to use drones!!!

Post by dogman dan » Dec 02 2013 7:58am

Hmm, so stock up on your lico before they tool up for full implementation? I can see it now, a 6s pack famine when they order theirs.

Next, you find out who orders all the time, lurk near his house, and pounce on that thing to steal the batteries. :twisted:

The good thing, jobs for the drone drivers. They look too small for autonomous operation, and currently the only airspace in the USA open to civilian autonomous drones is right here in Las Cruces.

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Re: Amazon plans to use drones!!!

Post by Dauntless » Dec 02 2013 4:49pm

They were called autonomous, using gps to guide themselves. I say it's just a gimmick. We'll see.
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Re: Amazon plans to use drones!!!

Post by John in CR » Dec 03 2013 1:07am

A friend owns a pizza place in Winnipeg. I started discussing unmanned delivery with her over a year ago. By air seemed fraught with dangerous issues and a wheeled or track vehicle is needed to get all the way to the door anyway, so too much weight to fly.

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Re: Amazon plans to use drones!!!

Post by Dauntless » Dec 03 2013 1:25am

Think of the fun when your phone rings and you go outside to have the pizza lowered into your hands.
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Re: Amazon plans to use drones!!!

Post by TheBeastie » Dec 03 2013 1:58am

I think some kind of chimney shaped metal shoot in peoples backyard or on the top of apartment builds could be a good end delivery solution. Hopefully it will be wide enough to be pizza box compatible.

Considering they had that shot of the drone taking off from an Amazon delivery roller line they are thinking about all of it and maybe not giving away all the answers.

This is the kind of thing I have been looking for where its out of most peoples everyday possibility of what they expect to see anytime soon but all of a sudden is here. The key difference is been the monster leap in low watt CPU power that the iPhone/smartphone has brought about in the last 4 years as much as the lithium batteries.

Until just 4 years ago there was nothing out there that has given such a huge drive to ultra low watt CPU performance, Intel never saw beyond the laptop and thats why they struggle in the smart phone sector now, and its this distinct change that has made delivery drones something to see in the very near future.
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Re: Amazon plans to use drones!!!

Post by Zoot Katz » Dec 03 2013 1:59am

Let's see, the drone carries five pounds, 10 miles in 30 minutes?
How can this be better than a bicycle?

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Re: Amazon plans to use drones!!!

Post by Jolly Jumper » Dec 03 2013 3:58am

Zoot Katz wrote: How can this be better than a bicycle?
Robots need not to pay taxes thats why Tesla and all the other have such a success :mrgreen:

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Re: Amazon plans to use drones!!!

Post by ohzee » Dec 03 2013 4:13am

Yea this is a great idea until hicks with guns looking to fish free merchandise out of the sky.

I still call BS. The technical limitations and safety issues are just great even over the next 5 yrs.

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Re: Amazon plans to use drones!!!

Post by dogman dan » Dec 03 2013 6:00am

I just keep having a mental picture of $200 worth of lico out there unguarded. :twisted:

Autonomous eh? Good luck with that. You know it takes 20-30 years to get the FAA to change a regulation. Cell phone use for example. We've been trying to get the low level flight rules changed for balloons since 1970. Balloons are actually safer to fly if we can go lower over a city, and find steering winds to go to a better landing. No luck so far. The change was said to be coming next year, 6 year ago.

Currently, the USA allows civilian autonomous drone flight only in a tiny corner of airspace near the Las Cruces Airport. This airspace was reserved so contractors can experiment on devices they intend to sell to the military, who of course, don't worry about the airspace rules where they are operating. The nearby WSMR airspace is for rocket flight, and piloted military drones use Holloman AFB for their area of operations. So Las Cruces was picked as a good nearby place not already crowded with other operations. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for all the airspace to be opened up for civilian autonomous drones.

I think to make this happen, they'd have to be remote piloted. Military stuff will be out there, if it's not already. But civilian stuff won't be unless piloted.

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Re: Amazon plans to use drones!!!

Post by nechaus » Dec 03 2013 6:22am

im seeing lico, im seeing a $5 dollar delivery and not only will you get your package, but also a pretty sweet copter that can carry a useful payload :twisted:
looks to be about 5 or 6 outrunners, esc, motherboard which can most likely be programmed, gps , cameras, who knows what they will put in them.
nah i would not do that, but i have a feeling they could be stolen faster than they were produced, but i guess they will come up with an idea to stop this obviously

I can see that we already have the technology to run them autonomously i think it would not be to hard for a team of people to fine tune the process of delivery, looking at arduino copters with full auto pilot, I think it is very possible, but yeah i can imagine the most difficult thing will be to get it all approved, maybe some countries will be more willing than others..


I think it will start out with mostly autonomous operation, there will be a call centre style of drone pilots ready on standby to take control when things go bad, other drones/normal cars to go out on field to retrieve any lost goods.

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Re: Amazon plans to use drones!!!

Post by nechaus » Dec 03 2013 6:28am

Maybe they could make the delivery drones and then mothership drones to do remote induction charging onsite repairs or return the units back to base.

im sitting on the couch now, im thinking about how it could all evolve.
Maybe there could be a landing gear that would do induction charging from power lines or remote charge stations to increase the distance it can travel?
perhaps batteries and supercaps will just become so awesome that wont be an issue

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Re: Amazon plans to use drones!!!

Post by dogman dan » Dec 03 2013 6:37am

Oh yeah, the tech is there, or nearly there. The main issue that they are working on out at the airport is improving collision avoidance. The biggest problem was how to see a hot air balloon. I was part of the support crew for the balloon on some of the experiments a few years ago. They have metal in the balloon, but the large envelope above the basket has none, and is hard to spot on radar.


Not sure how small they can make the radars, but I fail to see how anything has to be large nowdays. The goal, which will be realized eventually is passenger carrying autonomous aircraft. It's coming, but not in just a few years. How to manage a more crowded airspace is the real problem.

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Re: Amazon plans to use drones!!!

Post by nechaus » Dec 03 2013 6:49am

was thinking because it's so small it would not interfere with to much, only when it has to deliver,
maybe that's when human control takes over, 4g cellular is pretty low latency, lagless full video feed would be easy

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Re: Amazon plans to use drones!!!

Post by nechaus » Dec 03 2013 7:07am

The other day i had to send back a macbook to apple, They were sending me a replacement.
The courier driver came 2 days late, came without any paperwork of proof that he picked it up, and he could not scan it, and said to me " ill take it in the truck now and scan it back at the office where i left the con note" i was thinking for about 60 seconds, just a blank face, i was thinking if this does not get returned to apple they will charge my cc a hefty amount, so i walked back in side and grabbed the box and then put it back down and went back to the guy and said he will have to come back with the the paper work so i have proof, he was dressed in tnt uniform , tnt truck, im glad i did not hand it over. he seemed a bit sketchy


with these drones, for the delivery i would tick a check box when ordering something to give permission for the drone to take a picture if possible of the person getting the package to be emailed to me . guess that can happen now but it seems more acceptable for a machine to do it over a person.

might sound weird lol, many people might hate that idea, i dunno

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Re: Amazon plans to use drones!!!

Post by TheBeastie » Dec 03 2013 8:31am

I think you guys are thinking too much inward. Amazon is still pretty much a very USA company.
The amount of work I have done to order stuff off Amazon normally revolves using shipitto.com etc to actually get something.
Considering I have seen Amazon look at installing delivery lockers around the world it could be a larger globalization plan.
Maybe they will offer other countries to setup large company bases for jobs in their countries if there willing to accept Amazons delivery drone technology etc.
Getting stuff like this accepted and running in other countries would look great for Amazons stock which is ultimately what they are all about.
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Re: Amazon plans to use drones!!!

Post by LSBW » Dec 03 2013 8:48am

Decent GPS jammer is $100.
Let's how they are gonna solve this problem.
If Iranians could lend top of the line US military drone, these will be piece of cake for bored teens.

http://www.cbc.ca/newsblogs/yourcommuni ... l?cmp=fbtl

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Re: Amazon plans to use drones!!!

Post by TheBeastie » Dec 03 2013 9:02am

LSBW wrote:Decent GPS jammer is $100.
Let's how they are gonna solve this problem.
If Iranians could lend top of the line US military drone, these will be piece of cake for bored teens.

http://www.cbc.ca/newsblogs/yourcommuni ... l?cmp=fbtl
These kind of things are illegal, I mean any one can get a cell phone jammer but its no one wants to risk going to jail. If some one was just coming up with railway lines would some one come out and say I could stick a car engine block on the railway that will stuff it up... sure you could, but its not a very common issue.
Speed Kills Range, 10mph = 46 miles range, 20mph = 20 miles, 30mph = 8 miles rangehttps://goo.gl/1JNL53
Over Charging Kills ur battery bit.ly/1hzWKl4
Consider PAS as your only throttle https://goo.gl/Kg1F8F
Fuel-Cell is the ultimate battery coupled with 4th-gen Nuclear
https://goo.gl/TcKtHs https://goo.gl/ZhFFot https://goo.gl/gfa215
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Re: Amazon plans to use drones!!!

Post by efMX Trials Electric Freeride » Dec 03 2013 2:43pm

UPS experimenting with delivery drones, set to challenge Amazon's Prime Air :
Image
http://www.engadget.com/2013/12/03/ups- ... ry-drones/
some ride & sk8 videos:
metacafe.com/channels/NATAS666DAMIEN
http://www.youtube.com/natas666damien
i have nothing for sale.. :)

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Re: Amazon plans to use drones!!!

Post by Joseph C. » Dec 03 2013 7:54pm

A very depressing place to work. Swansea's warehouse - one of the few easy=to=pronounce Welsh placenames. :mrgreen:

Amazon warehouses
Reuters
The first item I see in Amazon's Swansea warehouse is a package of dog nappies. The second is a massive pink plastic dildo. The warehouse is 800,000 square feet, or, in what is Amazon's standard unit of measurement, the size of 11 football pitches (its Dunfermline warehouse, the UK's largest, is 14 football pitches). It is a quarter of a mile from end to end. There is space, it turns out, for an awful lot of crap.
But then there are more than 100m items on its UK website: if you can possibly imagine it, Amazon sells it. And if you can't possibly imagine it, well, Amazon sells it too. To spend 10½ hours a day picking items off the shelves is to contemplate the darkest recesses of our consumerist desires, the wilder reaches of stuff, the things that money can buy: a One Direction charm bracelet, a dog onesie, a cat scratching post designed to look like a DJ's record deck, a banana slicer, a fake twig. I work mostly in the outsize "non-conveyable" section, the home of diabetic dog food, and bio-organic vegetarian dog food, and obese dog food; of 52in TVs, and six-packs of water shipped in from Fiji, and oversized sex toys – the 18in double dong (regular-sized sex toys are shelved in the sortables section).

On my second day, the manager tells us that we alone have picked and packed 155,000 items in the past 24 hours. Tomorrow, 2 December – the busiest online shopping day of the year – that figure will be closer to 450,000. And this is just one of eight warehouses across the country. Amazon took 3.5m orders on a single day last year. Christmas is its Vietnam – a test of its corporate mettle and the kind of challenge that would make even the most experienced distribution supply manager break down and weep. In the past two weeks, it has taken on an extra 15,000 agency staff in Britain. And it expects to double the number of warehouses in Britain in the next three years. It expects to continue the growth that has made it one of the most powerful multinationals on the planet.

Right now, in Swansea, four shifts will be working at least a 50-hour week, hand-picking and packing each item, or, as the Daily Mail put it in an article a few weeks ago, being "Amazon's elves" in the "21st-century Santa's grotto".

If Santa had a track record in paying his temporary elves the minimum wage while pushing them to the limits of the EU working time directive, and sacking them if they take three sick breaks in any three-month period, this would be an apt comparison. It is probably reasonable to assume that tax avoidance is not "constitutionally" a part of the Santa business model as Brad Stone, the author of a new book on Amazon, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, tells me it is in Amazon's case. Neither does Santa attempt to bully his competitors, as Mark Constantine, the founder of Lush cosmetics, who last week took Amazon to the high court, accuses it of doing. Santa was not called before the Commons public accounts committee and called "immoral" by MPs.

For a week, I was an Amazon elf: a temporary worker who got a job through a Swansea employment agency – though it turned out I wasn't the only journalist who happened upon this idea. Last Monday, BBC's Panorama aired a programme that featured secret filming from inside the same warehouse. I wonder for a moment if we have committed the ultimate media absurdity and the show's undercover reporter, Adam Littler, has secretly filmed me while I was secretly interviewing him. He didn't, but it's not a coincidence that the heat is on the world's most successful online business. Because Amazon is the future of shopping; being an Amazon "associate" in an Amazon "fulfilment centre" – take that for doublespeak, Mr Orwell – is the future of work; and Amazon's payment of minimal tax in any jurisdiction is the future of global business. A future in which multinational corporations wield more power than governments.

But then who hasn't absent-mindedly clicked at something in an idle moment at work, or while watching telly in your pyjamas, and, in what's a small miracle of modern life, received a familiar brown cardboard package dropping on to your doormat a day later. Amazon is successful for a reason. It is brilliant at what it does. "It solved these huge challenges," says Brad Stone. "It mastered the chaos of storing tens of millions of products and figuring out how to get them to people, on time, without fail, and no one else has come even close." We didn't just pick and pack more than 155,000 items on my first day. We picked and packed the right items and sent them to the right customers. "We didn't miss a single order," our section manager tells us with proper pride.

At the end of my first day, I log into my Amazon account. I'd left my mum's house outside Cardiff at 6.45am and got in at 7.30pm and I want some Compeed blister plasters for my toes and I can't do it before work and I can't do it after work. My finger hovers over the "add to basket" option but, instead, I look at my Amazon history. I made my first purchase, The Rough Guide to Italy, in February 2000 and remember that I'd bought it for an article I wrote on booking a holiday on the internet. It's so quaint reading it now. It's from the age before broadband (I itemise my phone bill for the day and it cost me £25.10), when Google was in its infancy. It's littered with the names of defunct websites (remember Sir Bob Geldof's deckchair.com, anyone?). It was a frustrating task and of pretty much everything I ordered, only the book turned up on time, as requested.

But then it's a phenomenal operation. And to work in – and I find it hard to type these words without suffering irony seizure – a "fulfilment centre" is to be a tiny cog in a massive global distribution machine. It's an industrialised process, on a truly massive scale, made possible by new technology. The place might look like it's been stocked at 2am by a drunk shelf-filler: a typical shelf might have a set of razor blades, a packet of condoms and a My Little Pony DVD. And yet everything is systemised, because it has to be. It's what makes it all the more unlikely that at the heart of the operation, shuffling items from stowing to picking to packing to shipping, are those flesh-shaped, not-always-reliable, prone-to-malfunctioning things we know as people.

It's here, where actual people rub up against the business demands of one of the most sophisticated technology companies on the planet, that things get messy. It's a system that includes unsystemisable things like hopes and fears and plans for the future and children and lives. And in places of high unemployment and low economic opportunities, places where Amazon deliberately sites its distribution centres – it received £8.8m in grants from the Welsh government for bringing the warehouse here – despair leaks around the edges. At the interview – a form-filling, drug- and alcohol-testing, general-checking-you-can-read session at a local employment agency – we're shown a video. The process is explained and a selection of people are interviewed. "Like you, I started as an agency worker over Christmas," says one man in it. "But I quickly got a permanent job and then promoted and now, two years later, I'm an area manager."

Amazon will be taking people on permanently after Christmas, we're told, and if you work hard, you can be one of them. In the Swansea/Neath/Port Talbot area, an area still suffering the body blows of Britain's post-industrial decline, these are powerful words, though it all starts to unravel pretty quickly. There are four agencies who have supplied staff to the warehouse, and their reps work from desks on the warehouse floor. Walking from one training session to another, I ask one of them how many permanent employees work in the warehouse but he mishears me and answers another question entirely: "Well, obviously not everyone will be taken on. Just look at the numbers. To be honest, the agencies have to say that just to get people through the door."

It does that. It's what the majority of people in my induction group are after. I train with Pete – not his real name – who has been unemployed for the past three years. Before that, he was a care worker. He lives at the top of the Rhondda Valley, and his partner, Susan (not her real name either), an unemployed IT repair technician, has also just started. It took them more than an hour to get to work. "We had to get the kids up at five," he says. After a 10½-hour shift, and about another hour's drive back, before picking up the children from his parents, they got home at 9pm. The next day, they did the same, except Susan twisted her ankle on the first shift. She phones in but she will receive a "point". If she receives three points, she will be "released", which is how you get sacked in modern corporatese.

And then there's "Les", who is one of our trainers. He has a special, coloured lanyard that shows he's an Amazon "ambassador", and another that says he's a first aider. He's worked at the warehouse for more than a year and over the course of the week I see him, speeding across the floor, going at least twice the rate I'm managing. He's in his 60s and tells me how he lost two stone in the first two months he worked there from all the walking. We were told when we applied for the jobs that we may walk up to 15 miles a shift. He'd been a senior manager in the same firm for 32 years before he was made redundant and landed up here. How long was it before you got a permanent job, I ask him. "I haven't," he says, and he holds up his green ID badge. Permanent employees have blue ones, a better hourly rate, and after two years share options, and there is a subtle apartheid at work.

"They dangle those blue badges in front of you," says Bill Woolcock, an ex-employee at Amazon's fulfilment centre in Rugeley, Staffordshire. "If you have a blue badge you have better wages, proper rights. You can be working alongside someone in the same job, but they're stable and you're just cannon fodder. I worked there from September 2011 to February 2012 and on Christmas Eve an agency rep with a clipboard stood by the exit and said: 'You're back after Christmas. And you're back. And you're not. You're not.' It was just brutal. It reminded me of stories about the great depression, where men would stand at the factory gate in the hope of being selected for a few days' labour. You just feel you have no personal value at all."

Why haven't they given you a proper job, I ask Les, and he shrugs his head but elsewhere people mutter: it's friends of the managers who get the jobs. It's HR picking names at random. It's some sort of black magic nobody understands. Walking off shift in a great wave of orange high-vis vests, I chat to another man in his 60s. He'd been working in the Unity mine, near Neath, he told me, until a month ago, the second time he'd been laid off in two years. He'd worked at Amazon last Christmas too. "And they just let me go straight after, no warning or anything. And I couldn't have worked any harder! I worked my socks off!"

When I put the question to Amazon, it responded: "A small number of seasonal associates have been with us for an extended period of time and we are keen to retain those individuals in order that we can provide them with a permanent role when one becomes available. We were able to create 2,300 full-time permanent positions for seasonal associates in 2013 by taking advantage of Christmas seasonality to find great permanent employees but, unfortunately, we simply cannot retain 15,000 seasonal employees."

And this is what Amazon says about its policy relating to sickness: "Amazon is a company in growth and we offer a high level of security for all our associates. Like many companies, we employ a system to record employee attendance. We consider and review all personal circumstances in relation to any attendance issues and we would not dismiss anyone for being ill. The current systems used to record employee attendance is fair and predictable and has resulted in dismissals of 11 permanent employees out of a workforce of over 5,000 permanent employees in 2013."

It's worth noting that agency workers are not Amazon employees.

There's no doubt that it is hard, physical work. The Panorama documentary majored on the miles that Adam walked, the blisters he suffered, the ridiculous targets, and the fact that you're monitored by an Orwellian handset every second of every shift. As an agency worker, you're paid 19p an hour over the minimum wage – £6.50 – and the shifts are 10½ hours long. But lots of jobs involve hard, physical work. That's not the thing that bothers people. Almost everybody remains stoical in the face of physical discomfort and exhaustion. And they're Welsh: there's a warmth and friendliness from almost everyone who works there. My team leader is no corporate droid. He started on the shop floor, sounds like Richard Burton, and is gently encouraging. And yet.

"I've worked everywhere," a forklift truck driver tells me. "And this is the worst. They pay shit because they can. Because there's no other jobs out there. Trust me, I know, I tried. I was working for £12 an hour in my last job. I'm getting £8 an hour here. I worked for Sony before and they were strict but fair. It's the unfairness that gets you here."

An unfairness that has no outlet. In the wake of the BBC documentary, Hywel Francis, the MP for Aberavon, managed to get a meeting last week with Amazon's director of public policy, a meeting he's been trying to get for years. He's reluctant to speak about the complaints he's heard from his constituents but says that "the plant is exceptional in the local area in having no union representation. It's been a long haul to even get in there and find out what is going on." It's been a black hole where the lack of any checks upon its power has left a sense that everything is pared to the absolute bone – from the cheapest of the cheap plastic safety boots, which most long-term employees seem to spend their own money replacing with something they can walk in, to the sack-you-if-you're-sick policy, to the 15-minute break that starts wherever you happen to be in the warehouse. On my third morning, at my lowest point, when my energy has run out and my spirits are low, it takes me six minutes to walk to the airport-style scanners, where I spend a minute being frisked. I queue a minute for the loos, get a banana out of my locker, sit down for 30 seconds, and then I get up and walk the six minutes back to my station.

To work at Amazon is to spend your days at the coalface of consumerism. To witness our lust for stuff. This year's stuff includes great piles of Xboxes and Kindles and this season's Jamie Oliver cookbook, Save With Jamie (you want to save with Jamie? Don't buy his sodding book), and Paul Hollywood's Pies & Puds, and Rick Stein's India.

The celebrity chef cookbooks incense me. They don't even bother taking them out of the boxes. They lie in great EU butter mountain-sized piles at the ends of the aisle. Cook an egg on the telly and it's like being given a licence to print money for all eternity. The vast majority of people working in the warehouse are white, Welsh, working class, but I train with a man who's not called Sammy, and who isn't an asylum seeker from Sudan, but another country, and I spend an afternoon explaining to him what the scanner means when it tells him to look for a Good Boy Luxury Dog Stocking or a Gastric Mind Band hypnosis CD.

It's the Barbie Doll girl's Christmas advent calendar, however, that nearly breaks me. I traipse back and forth to section F, where I slice open a box, take another Barbie advent calendar, unpick the box and put it on the recycling pile, put the calendar, which has been shipped from China, passed from the container port to a third-party distributor and from there to the Amazon warehouse, on to my trolley and pass it to the packers, where it will be repackaged in a different box and finally reach its ultimate destination: the joy in a small child's heart. Because nothing captures the magic of Christmas more than a picture of a pneumatic blonde carrying multiple shopping bags. You can't put a price on that (£9.23 with free delivery).

We want cheap stuff. And we want to order it from our armchairs. And we want it to be delivered to our doors. And it's Amazon that has worked out how to do this. Over time, like a hardened drug user, my Amazon habit has increased. In 2002, I ordered my first non-book item, a This Life series 1 video; in 2005, my first non-Amazon product, a secondhand copy of a biography of Patricia Highsmith; and in 2008, I started doing the online equivalent of injecting intravenously, when I bought a TV on the site. "We are the most customer-centric company on earth," we're told in our induction briefing, shortly before it's explained that if we're late we'll get half a point, and after three of them we're out. What constitutes late, I ask. "A minute," I'm told.

I grew up in South Wales and saw first-hand how the 1980s recession slashed a brutal gash through everything, including my own extended family. I've always known that there's only a tissue-thin piece of luck between very different sorts of lives. But then my grandfather worked in a warehouse in Swansea. In my case, there really is only a tissue-thin piece of luck between me and an Amazon life. I have a lot of time to think about this during my 10½-hour day.

At the Neath working men's club down the road, one of the staff tells me that Amazon is "the employer of last resort". It's where you get a job if you can't get a job anywhere else. And it's this that's so heartbreaking. What did you do before, I ask people. And they say they're builders, hospitality managers, marketing graduates, IT technicians, carpenters, electricians. They owned their own businesses, and they were made redundant. Or the business went bust. Or they had a stroke. Or their contract ended. They are people who had skilled jobs, or professional jobs, or just better-paying jobs. And now they work for Amazon, earning the minimum wage, and most of them are grateful to have that.

Amazon isn't responsible for the wider economy, but it's the wider economy that makes the Amazon model so chilling. It's not just the nicey nice jobs that are becoming endangered, such as working in a bookshop, as Hugh Grant did in Notting Hill, or a record store, as the hero did in Nick Hornby's High Fidelity, or the jobs that have gone at Borders and Woolworths and Jessops and HMV, it's pretty much everything else too. Next in line is everything: working in the shoe department at John Lewis, or behind the tills at Tesco, or doing their HR, or auditing their accounts, or building their websites, or writing their corporate magazines. Swansea's shopping centre down the road is already a planning disaster; a wasteland of charity shops and what Sarah Rees of Cover to Cover bookshop calls "a second-rate Debenhams and a third-rate Marks and Spencer".

"People know about their employment practices, and all the delivery men hate them, but do people remember that when they click? Probably not. We try and kill them with kindness," she says. "You can't put the genie back in the bottle." But then there is nothing else to try and kill them with. It's cheaper, often for her, to order books on Amazon than through her distributor. "We're upfront about it and tell people, but there is just no way to compete with them on price."

There is no end to Amazon's appetite. "It's expanding in every conceivable direction," Brad Stone tells me. "It's why I called my book The Everything Store. Their ambition is to sell everything. They already have their digital services and their enterprise services. They've just started selling art. Apparel is still very immature and is set for expansion. Groceries are the next big thing. They're going very strongly after that because it will cut down costs elsewhere. If they can start running their own trucks in major metro areas, they can cut down the costs of third-party shippers."

In the UK, I point out, everyone already delivers groceries: Tesco, Asda, Waitrose, Sainsbury's. "I suspect they'll acquire," he says. And everywhere it kills jobs. Shops employ 47 people for every $10m in sales, according to research done by a company called ILSR. Amazon employs only 14 people per $10m of revenue. In Britain, it turned over £4.2bn last year, which is a net loss of 23,000 jobs. And even the remaining jobs, the hard, badly paid jobs in Amazon's warehouses, are hardly future-proof. Amazon has just bought an automated sorting system called Kiva for $775m. How many retail jobs, of any description, will there be left in 10 years' time?

Our lust for cheap, discounted goods delivered to our doors promptly and efficiently has a price. We just haven't worked out what it is yet.

It's taxes, of course, that pay for the roads on which Amazon's delivery trucks drive, and the schools in which its employees are educated, and the hospitals in which their babies are born and their arteries are patched up, and in which, one day, they may be nursed in their dying days. Taxes that all its workers pay, and that, it emerged in 2012, it tends not to pay. On UK sales of £4.2bn in 2012, it paid £3.2m in corporation tax. In 2006, it transferred its UK business to Luxembourg and reclassified its UK operation as simply "order fulfilment" business. The Luxembourg office employs 380 people. The UK operation employs 21,000. You do the math.

Brad Stone tells me that tax avoidance is built into the company's DNA. From the very beginning it has been "constitutionally oriented to securing every possible advantage for its customers, setting the lowest possible prices, taking advantage of every known tax loophole or creating new ones". It's something that Mark Constantine, the co-founder of Lush cosmetics, has spent time thinking about. He refuses to sell through Amazon, but it didn't stop Amazon using the Lush name to direct buyers to its site, where it suggested alternative products they might like.

"It's a way of bullying businesses to use their services. And we refused. We've been in the high court this week to sue them for breach of trademark. It's cost us half a million pounds so far to defend our business. Most companies just can't afford that. But we've done it because it's a matter of principle. They keep on forcing your hand and yet they don't have a viable business model. The only way they can afford to run it is by not paying tax. If they had to behave in a more conventional way, they would struggle.

"It's a form of piracy capitalism. They rush into people's countries, they take the money out, and they dump it in some port of convenience. That's not a business in any traditional sense. It's an ugly return to a form of exploitative capitalism that we had a century ago and we decided as a society to move on from."

In Swansea I chat to someone whose name is not Martin for a while. It's Saturday, the sun is shining and the warehouse has gone quiet. We've been told to stop picking. The orders have been turned off like a tap. "It's the weather," he says. "When it rains, it can suddenly go mental." We clear away boxes and the tax issue comes up. "There was a lot of anger here," he says. "People were very bitter about it. But I'd always say to them: 'If someone told you that you could pay less tax, do you honestly think you would volunteer to pay more?'" He's right. And the people who were angry were also right. It's an unignorable fact of modern life that, as Stuart Roper of Manchester Business School tells me, "some of these big brands are more powerful than governments. They're wealthier. If they were countries, they would be pretty large economies. They're multinational and the global financial situation allows them to ship money all over the world. And the government is so desperate for jobs that it has given away large elements of control."

It's a mirror image of what is happening on the shop floor. Just as Amazon has eroded 200 years' worth of workers' rights through its use of agencies and rendered a large swath of its workers powerless, so it has pulled off the same trick with corporate responsibility. MPs like to slag off Amazon and Starbucks and Google for not paying their taxes but they've yet to actually create the legislation that would compel them to do so.

"They are taking these massive subsidies from the state and they are not paying back," says Martin Smith of the GMB union. "Their argument is that they are creating jobs but what they are doing is displacing and replacing other jobs. Better jobs. And high street shops tend to pay their taxes. There is a £120bn tax gap that is only possible because the government pay tax benefits to enable people to survive. When companies pay the minimum wage they are in effect being subsidised by the taxpayer."

Back in Swansea, on the last break of my last day, I sit and chat with Pete and Susan from the Rhondda and Sammy, the asylum seeker from Sudan. Susan still wants a permanent job but is looking more doubtful about it happening. Her ankle is still swollen. Her pick rate has been low. We've been told that next week, the hours will increase by an hour a day and there will be an extra day of compulsory overtime. It will mean getting their children up by 4.30am and Pete is worried about finding a baby-sitter at three days' notice. When I ask Sammy how the job compares with the one he had in Sudan, where he was a foreman in a factory, he thinks for a minute then shrugs: "It's the same."

There have always been rubbish jobs. Ian Brinkley, the director of the Work Foundation, calls Amazon's employment practices "old wine in new bottles". Restaurants and kebab shops have done the same sort of thing for years. But Amazon is not a kebab shop. It's the future. Which may or may not be something to think about as you click "add to basket".

This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk
http://www.businessinsider.com/i-spent- ... z2mSlLaKkn
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TheBeastie   10 MW

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Re: Amazon plans to use drones!!!

Post by TheBeastie » Dec 03 2013 7:55pm

Wanted to share this video, seen a few like this to give the insight of what drones can do.
http://youtu.be/mGp6eo7w7c8
I assume in 5years time the drone will have 8 100megapixel cameras and be able to see potential threats from a mile away, then radio home for some extra drone backup.
I think if you extrapolate autonomous maneuverability like the video drone above you could have a whole street of people throwing stuff at it and it will dodge it all like it was just fun. It should also be able to see gun barrels and be able to avoid being directly aimed at .
Speed Kills Range, 10mph = 46 miles range, 20mph = 20 miles, 30mph = 8 miles rangehttps://goo.gl/1JNL53
Over Charging Kills ur battery bit.ly/1hzWKl4
Consider PAS as your only throttle https://goo.gl/Kg1F8F
Fuel-Cell is the ultimate battery coupled with 4th-gen Nuclear
https://goo.gl/TcKtHs https://goo.gl/ZhFFot https://goo.gl/gfa215
10 Square Miles of solar panels = 0.12GW average power! https://goo.gl/Ub1S39

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dogman dan   100 GW

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Location: Las Cruces New Mexico USA

Re: Amazon plans to use drones!!!

Post by dogman dan » Dec 04 2013 5:54am

That's the kind of tech they are working on, both in the military and the civilian autonomous drones. Avoiding anything out there that could be a problem, birds, invisible hot air balloons, other drones, etc. They can do what is needed now. And likely the military has been doing it.

But as I know the FAA, it (autonomous delivery drones) will be tested in another country first. FAA doesn't move at the rate of technology, as seen by it's slow acceptance of GPS. They have been talking for decades about changing how the airspace is managed now that we have GPS. Still waiting, while air traffic controllers use 1970 tech at best.

As for the thieves, now you have a picture of them. So? Ever told the cops your bike was stolen? Or your cell phone? And they did what about it?

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TheBeastie   10 MW

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Posts: 2084
Joined: Jul 28 2012 12:31am
Location: Melbourne Australia

Re: Amazon plans to use drones!!!

Post by TheBeastie » Dec 04 2013 7:19am

It was in the new today in AU and they said that in Australia commercial air space for drones has been fully legal for the last decade unlike how it is in the USA.
Speed Kills Range, 10mph = 46 miles range, 20mph = 20 miles, 30mph = 8 miles rangehttps://goo.gl/1JNL53
Over Charging Kills ur battery bit.ly/1hzWKl4
Consider PAS as your only throttle https://goo.gl/Kg1F8F
Fuel-Cell is the ultimate battery coupled with 4th-gen Nuclear
https://goo.gl/TcKtHs https://goo.gl/ZhFFot https://goo.gl/gfa215
10 Square Miles of solar panels = 0.12GW average power! https://goo.gl/Ub1S39

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dogman dan   100 GW

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Joined: May 17 2008 12:53pm
Location: Las Cruces New Mexico USA

Re: Amazon plans to use drones!!!

Post by dogman dan » Dec 04 2013 12:57pm

Drones, or autonomous drones? Big difference. I was talking about flying commercial autonomous drones in USA.

Piloted drones is different, and to tell the truth, I don't know if civilian piloted drones can fly in US airspace or not. My most recent copy of the FAR's is about 6 years old now. I don't fly anymore, so don't buy a copy every year.

I'm a bit vague on the rules for hobby RC aircraft too. I think it's anything goes if it's piloted at low enough altitude, like small toy rockets or helecopters . When they do fly toy rockets to high altitudes, they do a warning to pilots. You get that warning when you call for the weather. I'm not sure at what height or size the FAA takes interest in hobby aircraft. I'm pretty sure though, that it better be class G airspace you fly in. That's most of the US, close to the ground. Near the big airport of course, is not class G. That's the highly controlled airspace.

Since you don't fly over cities below 1000' agl, unless for takeoff or landing, it may be ok to fly the piloted small stuff to that height. Helicopters can fly lower though, so the drones would be a great hazard to them if they got numerous.

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