Print 66 comment(s) - last by Just Tom.. on Dec 9 at 11:34 AM

It should finish testing in about four to five years

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said he wanted to use unmanned "Prime Air" drones for small package delivery. 

During a "60 Minutes" interview with CBS correspondent Charlie Rose, Bezos said the company is currently testing unmanned, octocopter drones called "Prime Air" that have the ability to deliver small packages to customers in just 30 minutes.

The speedy delivery system would pick up packages up to five pounds in weight and deliver them directly to customers' homes or businesses. This could be pretty helpful to Amazin, since packages under five pounds represent about 86 percent of packages that Amazon delivers.

Bezos added that the Prime Air drones are only in testing right now, and they need more safety testing and FAA approvals before they can be used regularly. According to Bezos, this should be in about four to five years. 

Check out more info on the drones from Amazon here.

Sources: CBS News, Amazon

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By mik123 on 12/2/2013 12:17:11 PM , Rating: 3
Wow, this is so cool!
I'm not sure if they can pull it off, but if they do, this can revolutionize mail service!

RE: Wow
By wushuktl on 12/2/2013 12:29:44 PM , Rating: 4
i don't know, i may be in the minority but i really wouldn't want to see these things flying around.

RE: Wow
By nafhan on 12/2/2013 12:47:59 PM , Rating: 2
Any reason why?

The main disadvantage I see in this is that it'll start to be available around the same time as "unmanned" delivery vehicles on the road - which will offer a lot of the benefits while being less expensive to operate and viable for larger cargo.

RE: Wow
By FITCamaro on 12/2/2013 1:17:50 PM , Rating: 5
Strong gusts of wind or rain causing packages to come free and fall onto pedestrians or vehicles.

Hardware failures causing drone and package to plummet out of the sky onto pedestrians or vehicles.

Drone having to place package in backyard or driveway leading to theft, being forgotten about, or crushed packages.

Noise of hundreds or thousands of drones going through the sky in major population centers.

RE: Wow
By Just Tom on 12/2/2013 1:26:31 PM , Rating: 5
While I agree that this is probably an awful idea, mainly due to the safety concerns you mentioned, I don't think theft -assuming the package is delivered to the correct address- is really a problem. If you sign up for 30 minute delivery odds are you are already on location waiting for your package.

RE: Wow
By Mitch101 on 12/2/2013 2:12:05 PM , Rating: 5
Wonder what a Pizza weighs. 30 minutes or less?

RE: Wow
By Souka on 12/2/2013 5:41:23 PM , Rating: 2
Less than 5 lbs, but such delivery cost will likely be $25-50

No mention of delivery cost.. but I work at a hospital, such a service could easily be setup (blood bank roof to hospital roof) and be a life saver.

RE: Wow
By retrospooty on 12/3/2013 9:52:04 AM , Rating: 2
They have already been experimenting with Pizza delivery in the UK with this. No humans or automobiles involved, means its cheaper for the company to use.

Sorry if anyone doesnt like it, its coming. UPS is on it too, and if they are , so are Fedex, DHL and everyone else - because it makes fiscal sense and helps the customer at the same time.

No losers here, except truck drivers maybe LOL. But that is the cost of progress. There weren't alot of livery's left after the car became popular, but the world will move on.

RE: Wow
By Just Tom on 12/9/2013 11:34:07 AM , Rating: 2
It was an one time thing. This is not experimentation, it is a publicity stunt. Hell, it was even run by an ad agency.

RE: Wow
By retrospooty on 12/2/2013 5:15:22 PM , Rating: 2
You are putting alot onto it that I am sure will be thought out first...

"Strong gusts of wind or rain causing packages to come free" - Not available during inclimate weather.

"Hardware failures causing drone and package to plummet out of the sky onto pedestrians or vehicles." Like todays airplanes? Highly unlikely. If one of 8 engines fails, the other 7 take over fine. Sure it could happen, but its not going to be any worse than todays current transportation. In fact, I would bet more people get hurt and/or die in accidents involving current style delivery trucks than this.

"Drone having to place package in backyard or driveway leading to theft" Disclaimer, you must be home when ordering and agree to the terms of service. When it drops it off, it takes a snap of your door - now its on you. Dont want it? Dont use it.

"Noise of hundreds or thousands of drones going through the
sky in major population centers."
- This is nothing compared to todays cars.

RE: Wow
By w8gaming on 12/2/2013 6:43:50 PM , Rating: 2
Are you aware of how much kinetic energy this thing will have when it fell out of sky and hit someone or a vehicle or building? Compare to commercial aircraft is not relevant because aircraft is highly regulated. If Amazon drone has to be subjected to the same kind of regulation, the cost alone will have sunk this idea as a mean for delivery. It is not technology is the issue, it is the economics and its safety concern. Maybe if we all live underground with 3 feet thick of soils above us then it can become viable.

RE: Wow
By retrospooty on 12/2/2013 9:53:58 PM , Rating: 2
Like I said, this will be safer than todays delivery trucks... once its proven safe it will happen.

RE: Wow
By sorry dog on 12/3/2013 9:53:03 AM , Rating: 1

Not until the technology exists for mainstream see and avoid. For that to happen now each drone would need an actual human pilot. Otherwise, collisions would be an almost daily occurrence.

RE: Wow
By nafhan on 12/2/2013 5:53:26 PM , Rating: 2
These sound remarkably similar to reasons why no one should ever have a package delivered to their house via UPS/Fedex/etc.

Without info indicating that these types of problems would increase due to drone delivery, this is not a valid argument against it.

RE: Wow
By GTVic on 12/2/2013 2:33:51 PM , Rating: 2
Also, wouldn't the drones themselves be an easy target for vandals and thieves. I don't see how you could get around that problem.

RE: Wow
By retrospooty on 12/2/2013 5:39:13 PM , Rating: 2
UPS and Fedex drop off packages on most peoples door ring the bell and go, no interface at all unless its shipped with the "signature required" option. EVen with that, you can sign the ticket and have them drop it off at your door. It's just a disclaimer. If it comes in 30-60 minutes, you need to be home to accept or it is your risk/loss. If you werent home, why would you order this? Just use the normal method. This is for the in a hurry delivery and I am sure will cost more. No-one would use this if they werent going to be there.

RE: Wow
By retrospooty on 12/2/2013 5:45:48 PM , Rating: 2
Another possible option that could even replace the "signature required" option... If it is marked that way, the drone beeps outside your door. You open the door and wave it in, it takes your snapshot and drops it off. Any discrepancies, they refer to the snapshot and say this person opened the front door and accepted the delivery.

I would totally agree to that. Great service. All positives and no negatives.

RE: Wow
By blue_urban_sky on 12/3/2013 5:11:29 AM , Rating: 2
Show it a barcode and it will release your package with a loverly little parachute :)

RE: Wow
By retrospooty on 12/3/2013 7:42:58 AM , Rating: 2
Yup and its all tied up with the terms of service disclaimer... If you don't agree to the terms, or wont be home, or feel uncomfortable in any way just don't use it. Pick the cheaper next day options that are delivered on trucks.

RE: Wow
By blue_urban_sky on 12/3/2013 5:14:07 AM , Rating: 2
I like this idea and rase you the truck having unmanned drones to drop off the packages like a parcel laden carrier van ;)

RE: Wow
By marvdmartian on 12/3/2013 7:30:51 AM , Rating: 2
Package delivery via Hellfire missile?? LOL

RE: Wow
By DT_Reader on 12/2/2013 3:30:28 PM , Rating: 2
The problem isn't when Amazon starts doing it, the problem is when USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc. all start doing it. I doubt we want our skies full of drones, and when two drones collide, whose fault is it? Mix in the police drones that many communities are trying to ban and I really don't see this being allowed.

RE: Wow
By Keeir on 12/2/2013 3:47:04 PM , Rating: 2
When two drones collide...

While I am sure that this will occur, assuming these drones typically operate in the 50-500 foot airspace, there is an astonishing amount of airspace available. Assigning companies 10-20 foot bands would significantly reduce collisions.

I'd be more worried about effect on wildlife in having hundreds of drones flying around similiar to birds of prey.

RE: Wow
By Mitch101 on 12/2/2013 4:48:17 PM , Rating: 4
They have to use drones because Unladen Swallows (both African and European) are not common in the US and I looked to see if Amazon sells a Coconut too. There goes my quest.

RE: Wow
By V-Money on 12/2/2013 5:54:07 PM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't imagine it would be too difficult. When I was in the Navy there were more or less "shipping lanes" that boats would adhere to and as I was on submarines we would use "operating areas" to prevent us from colliding into one another. Something similar could be established I'm sure.

RE: Wow
By superflex on 12/3/2013 12:24:47 PM , Rating: 2
Wait 'till one of Bezos' drones takes out a Bald Eagle on video.

RE: Wow
By retrospooty on 12/2/2013 5:49:11 PM , Rating: 2
" when two drones collide"

Not going to happen. I dont think you are familiar with the tech. See below...

RE: Wow
By M'n'M on 12/2/2013 7:13:41 PM , Rating: 2
Given the lack of air police, I wonder how long it'll be before enterprising teenagers deploy their HK drones, dropping string into the props of Amazons octocopters to down them for their parts ... and maybe something nifty from Amazon too !

Death from Above !!

RE: Wow
By Alexvrb on 12/2/2013 11:42:17 PM , Rating: 2
As long as they paint Pirate markings on their drones (preferably using FTL art as a template) I'm on board. Make sure you hit them with an EMP to disable their tracking devices!

Ain't going to happen.
By Homerboy on 12/2/2013 12:39:01 PM , Rating: 3
The logistics and real world practicality behind this just don't work out.

Hell of a little publicity stunt though.

RE: Ain't going to happen.
By Dr of crap on 12/2/2013 12:53:12 PM , Rating: 1
Yea, and 15 years ago could you have searched the web from a 3 inch screen device that you hold in you hand, and make calls, and send "text" messages, and also hook this device up to you car????

RE: Ain't going to happen.
By FITCamaro on 12/2/2013 1:19:04 PM , Rating: 1
There are also no unavoidable safety concerns around the idea of making calls or text messages from a device in your hand.

These have many safety concerns that are impossible to eliminate.

RE: Ain't going to happen.
By Reclaimer77 on 12/2/2013 3:53:23 PM , Rating: 2
These have many safety concerns that are impossible to eliminate.

There's millions of tons of aircraft flying over our perspective heads every day, each one with enough destructive potential to wreck a city.

I think our society could handle a few delivery RC copters.

RE: Ain't going to happen.
By w8gaming on 12/3/2013 2:34:46 AM , Rating: 2
Aircraft is monitored by air traffic control all over the world. Even civilian aircraft is monitored. And they are all piloted by highly trained pilots, with good understanding of how aviation works. So the challenge for Amazon is: need to pay high salary to their pilots that operate the drones, need to subject to strict regulations that service their drones regularly to keep them in top conditions. And how many drones are they planning to fly? If there are just a few then it probably is not going to have any significant impact except to generate publicity. If there are too many, they will have to find a lot of qualified pilots which will cause them a lot of money. And landing the drone will be an issue if the delivery is to a city due to too much obstruction. And how are they going to avoid the legal liability of one of the pilot going rogue and fly the drone in a destructive manner? It is simply cheaper to find a truck driver to deliver the package instead of flying a drone. At least they will not have to worry bad weather grounding their drones.

RE: Ain't going to happen.
By Keeir on 12/2/2013 4:02:39 PM , Rating: 2
Says the guy who gets into a device dependant on a engine that converts a mildly toxic substance into rotational engery several thousand times a second via a 4 stage process that including high pressures and contained explosions, which is steered using multiple mechanical linkages hooked up to wetware suspectable to a wide range of over and under stimulants. Who then proceeds to use this device to minutes to hours a day passing within feet of other such devices run independant wetware. The device is also requires maintainence or is liable to break down.

Its not required to eliminate the safety concerns, but to bring the occurance down to a reasonable level for the convience offered. Traditional truck delievery approaches are not without safety consquences either.

Concerns such as colliding drones, or packages/drones falling on people, are manageable issues. The amount of usable space in the air is almost unbelievable. And believe it or not, even in densely populated areas, it is unlikely that a crashing drone/package will actually injury someone. After all, parts fall off of commerical and military planes with somewhat frequency, and these never seem to be a huge concern. TFOA incidents have occured for decades, with little public awareness suggesting for the most part, little personal or property damage occurs.


RE: Ain't going to happen.
By Labotomizer on 12/2/2013 4:26:42 PM , Rating: 3
I expected better from a tech site to be perfectly honest. I get all the people freaking out over this because "change is bad" and all that.

I would bet money that if we had internet back when we were moving from horses to these space age cars there would have been a lot of similar arguments.

Cheaper then FedEx/UPS/USPS? Yes.
Greener than FedEx/UPS/USPS? Yes.
Faster than FedEx/UPS/USPS? Yes.

For those three reasons it makes this something that is a worthwhile pursuit. The only reason it won't come to fruition is the FAA is full people who waited 10+ years too long to allow electronic device usage during takeoff and landing.

Eventually the skies will be full of drones and other autonomous aircraft that make our lives easier. Just like cars will drive themselves and run on hydrogen and/or battery. It's not a matter of if it's only a matter of when. Why? Because that's how society is trending. Technology ultimately evolves to make our lives better and easier and UAVs delivering packages in short time spans definitely qualifies. And since it's cheaper than shipping you'll likely get it as an option with Amazon Prime.

And eventually everyone will move to this. It's just how the world works.

RE: Ain't going to happen.
By Reclaimer77 on 12/2/2013 4:44:58 PM , Rating: 2
I expected better from a tech site to be perfectly honest. I get all the people freaking out over this because "change is bad" and all that.

Honestly this place seems to be made up of mostly Luddites or something. Anytime some new technology comes up, it's instantly shouted down for being unsafe or for it being used in some unintended way.

I mean good grief, read some of the comments on the Google Glass restaurant article. Rampant paranoia and efforts to categorize it's users as rude voyeurs or something.

Cheaper then FedEx/UPS/USPS? Yes. Greener than FedEx/UPS/USPS? Yes. Faster than FedEx/UPS/USPS? Yes.

I would say safer too. The chances of the driver wrecking to deliver your package is way higher than this drone having an accident or whatever nonsense people are saying.

RE: Ain't going to happen.
By Labotomizer on 12/2/2013 4:49:14 PM , Rating: 2
Good point and removing the human factor will almost certainly make it safer. Just as cars will be safer because we won't be the ones controlling them.

And sadly the same responses seem to proliferate all the tech sites. I would expect people who are interested in technology and scientific news would be a little more forward thinking.

There are always some safety concerns I suppose but something that weights a total of 10 lbs falling from the sky isn't the end of the world. Oh, and it's an octocopter and can lose quite a few engines before it would "fall from the sky". And assuming it lost signal, loses engines or whatever else I'm sure it's programmed to find a safe place and just land.

RE: Ain't going to happen.
By w8gaming on 12/3/2013 2:38:18 AM , Rating: 2
If we cannot even allow self driving cars on the road yet, how do you think the society will have allowed self flying drones in the sky? They will demand actual human pilot actively monitor and control EACH drone.

RE: Ain't going to happen.
By sorry dog on 12/3/2013 7:55:38 PM , Rating: 2

Not that I'm against this kind of tech, but some ground rules also need to be set. If the drone is using public right of way then fine, but as soon as one flies over my back yard then game on.

At least I have a few years to saving up for my own air superiority drone.

RE: Ain't going to happen.
By Keeir on 12/3/2013 7:02:35 PM , Rating: 2
Cheaper then FedEx/UPS/USPS? Yes.
Greener than FedEx/UPS/USPS? Yes.

Wait a second there. Those are some fairly bold claims to make. And probably untrue.

For one thing, the amount of energy required to acchieve the 10 mile radius indicates these guys are going to need 2-3 kWh batteries. Presumably lithium. They are also likely to have a resource usage of around .1 kWh/mile/lb. A UPS truck uses around 4 kWh/mile. Presumably, UPS trucks are carrying much more than 40 lbs of packages along a typical route.

A second thing is that unless we make major advances in battery technology, there is be a fairly strict limit to zone of flight and carry wieght (more wieght/range requires more batteries which limit range which require more batteries, etc). Whereas 1 distrabution center for UPS could easily cover a 100 mile radius (volume dependant), Amazon's drones would need 100! of the same centers.

They are likely to be more expensive and less green that FedEx/UPS etc. However, they are very convienent and cheap and green provided you goal is such tight timelines.

RE: Ain't going to happen.
By nafhan on 12/2/2013 6:01:01 PM , Rating: 2
These have many safety concerns that are impossible to eliminate.
I'm guessing you also avoid things like skiiing, swimming, and walking out your front door? Practically any activity you can think of has safety concerns. This, by itself, is not a valid reason to avoid things.

RE: Ain't going to happen.
By 1prophet on 12/3/2013 12:39:14 PM , Rating: 2
A valid reason would be when you can't get insurance or the costs are ridiculously high for these drones,

think of all the sue happy lawyers eying Amazon or some other big company owning the drones.

RE: Ain't going to happen.
By nafhan on 12/4/2013 11:54:19 AM , Rating: 2
You won't be able to get real numbers regarding insurance or liability costs on a hypothetical drone fleet because it doesn't exist.

In other words: you have no idea if it's a valid reason, and neither do I.

RE: Ain't going to happen.
By kattanna on 12/2/2013 1:17:51 PM , Rating: 1

it would have to share airspace with the local city police helicopters, so um no. not going to work

RE: Ain't going to happen.
By Ammohunt on 12/2/2013 2:10:21 PM , Rating: 2
Why individual packages why not small loads by piloted cargo drone aircraft from say city to city.

RE: Ain't going to happen.
By TakinYourPoints on 12/3/2013 1:51:17 AM , Rating: 2
This is totally happening and its awesome.

Technology marches on!

Target practice
By Techslave on 12/2/2013 1:02:50 PM , Rating: 2
I can see this going over real well in gang neighborhoods. "Ready, aim ..."

RE: Target practice
By DT_Reader on 12/2/2013 3:26:41 PM , Rating: 2
A well-placed shot could take out the drone while "delivering" the package to the shooter.

RE: Target practice
By laviathan05 on 12/4/2013 11:55:19 AM , Rating: 2
Most gangs aren't known for their impeccable markmanship, just saying.

To hit a drone that size from more than 500 feet away while it's on the move would take a very good shot to say the least.

By flyingpants1 on 12/2/2013 3:30:14 PM , Rating: 2
Easy. They'll have pre-determined routes and heights so there are no problems with mid-air collisions. They obviously have GPS and only need to touch down for a few seconds so no real danger of being stolen.

A drone is much cheaper than an employee or a truck, and can likely make much more deliveries per second per dollar.

Mindless jobs should be replaced by robots.

RE: Easy
By sorry dog on 12/3/2013 8:03:29 PM , Rating: 2
GPS doesn't tell you where a tree is or where a 3 story building is for that matter. It's called see and avoid and it's something that world of human piloted aircraft depend on. Maybe someday computers will do that better than we can, but that day isn't really here yet.

RE: Easy
By flyingpants1 on 12/3/2013 10:57:45 PM , Rating: 2
GPS doesn't tell you where a tree is or where a 3 story building is for that matter.

Right. I guess there is absolutely no other way of getting that information.

Maybe someday computers will do that better than we can, but that day isn't really here yet.

Yeah, OK. I'd like to see someone TRY to fly a manned drone in one of these scenarios.

Restricted air space
By Ahnilated on 12/2/2013 12:56:41 PM , Rating: 2
What about all the issues with restricted air space that these things would have to fly through?

I know I sure wouldn't want all this stuff flying over head with the possibility of falling out of the sky onto me or my house/car. It is bad enough that we have to deal with the blue waste bombs from airliners and satellites or pieces from them falling out of the sky.

RE: Restricted air space
By ipay on 12/2/2013 1:15:16 PM , Rating: 1
I think you mean controlled airspace; restricted airspace is not that common. Either way... they'd navigate around them... just like pilots do now.

RE: Restricted air space
By nafhan on 12/3/2013 10:04:16 AM , Rating: 2
It is bad enough that we have to deal with the blue waste bombs from airliners and satellites or pieces from them falling out of the sky.
I'm curious about how often you've dealt with those things. Is that a big problem where you live?

Where is it going to land?
By Schrag4 on 12/2/2013 1:06:10 PM , Rating: 3
Will customers have to paint a landing pad on their driveway? What happens when this damages your car, house, trees, pets, kids, as it descends?

Or will it just deliver it to an Amazon storefront close to the customer? I have so many questions about how this could work.

RE: Where is it going to land?
By Lord 666 on 12/2/2013 6:26:41 PM , Rating: 2
In the Amazon video sequence, they never show what happens to the canister after landing.

The item is put into canister, drone connects to canister and takes off, but when it gets to the guys house, only the package is showed with the canister disappearing.

Still impressive idea. Amazon could get into the courier package business and get rid of those freaky looking bicycle delivery people in the city.

By hughlle on 12/2/2013 1:30:02 PM , Rating: 2
Are these to be autonomous or controlled by "pilots".

What would be my legal position if say i was flying a kite and accidentally took down one of these destroying the drone and a pricey electrical good in the process. Like with boats, sails get priority over motors, so if my kite has an incident with a drone, are they responsible for buying me a new kite? :)

p.s i dont have a kite, but you get the idea.

Or how about a drone is delivering something and a car drives onto your driveway smashing it into some unusable pieces.

I just don't see the point to be honest. If the aim is short deliveries, then heck, fast food joints have been sending out pizzas for decades, surely they could just plonk a guy on a moped with a few items and say mush.

RE: Legality.
By flyingpants1 on 12/2/2013 3:32:40 PM , Rating: 2
The point is it's automatic and cheaper.. That should be obvious

"unmanned" drones
By Flunk on 12/2/2013 12:50:52 PM , Rating: 2
As apposed to all those manned drones that people are using.

target practice
By jonjonjon on 12/2/2013 4:35:00 PM , Rating: 2
i would shoot these down and get free packages! how long until someone hacks them and lands them and keeps the packages? this will never work.

By jeffbui on 12/2/2013 7:45:55 PM , Rating: 2
You guys could always hold the UPS/Fedex driver up at gunpoint too, or go through his truck on his lunch break. I'm assuming the drones will have cameras on them that will send pictures of you shooting it down.

Free Drone with Delivery
By SuckRaven on 12/3/2013 1:32:36 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah. That is until people find a way to capture the drones, with a giant butterfly net, and find a way to obfuscate it's location. Insta-free-drone.

I sense a disturbance...
By Spookster on 12/3/2013 2:36:31 PM , Rating: 2
The shroud of the Dark Side has fallen. Begun, the Drone War has!

By ipay on 12/2/2013 12:31:54 PM , Rating: 1
I feel like I'm reading The Onion.

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