Amazon.com is testing delivering packages using drones, CEO Jeff Bezos said on the CBS TV news show 60 Minutes Sunday. The service is called Amazon Prime Air and the goal it to get packages into customers' hands in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles. Amazon hopes to get this approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as early as 2015 if all goes well. Check out the Youtube video below for footage from a recent test flight.
Amazon will use small unmanned drone aircraft, also known as octocopters, for Amazon Prime Air. The machines will pick up pre-packaged items in plastic tubs from Amazon fulfillment centers and then take off through the air to deliver items to customers. The new concept would be able to deliver packages up to five pounds in weight to any customer within ten miles of a fulfillment center. Jeff Bezos said that 86-percent of Amazon's orders are under five pounds. The octocopters have about 15 minutes of flight time and can reach speeds of up to 25 mph (40 km/hour).
Amazon Has 34 Fulfillment Centers in These US States:
This idea sounds great, but there are a ton of hurdles for Amazon to overcome. For starters they need to get FAA approval and right now the FAA has not allowed drones from commercial use. The payload that a drone could carry would also be rather small, so this wouldn't be an option for heavy items. After that you have to deal with the limited range of the octocopter itself and mother nature. If the weather is bad outside there it will be tough for a drone to fly through it. Also, where will it land? Amazon would have to have super updated satellite images for the delivery areas or maybe have customers create landing pads. You then have to worry about drones being shot down, stolen and accidents in general. For example, what happens is landing on your driveway when someone pulls up and doesn't look up to see a drone landing?
Regardless, this is a pretty cool futuristic ideal by Jeff Bezos. If you need a missing ingredient for a meal and you don't want to get stuck in big city traffic during rush hour, the Amazon Prime Air service could save the day. There are tons of things you use the Amazon Prime Air service for and we hope that they are able to work through the complexities and usher in the era of drone deliveries!