Amazon Chief Reveals Drone Delivery System

Unmanned delivery aircraft could be ready within five years

  • Share
  • Read Later

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos revealed an experimental drone-based delivery service on Sunday, in an ambitious move by the online retailer to capitalize on a technology still being used sparsely by American businesses. Bezos said the service, dubbed Amazon Prime Air, could be ready for customer use in “four or five years.”

“I know this looks like science fiction, it’s not,” Bezos said on 60 Minutes, adding that “this is early, this is still years away.”

(MORE: Amazon Prime Air: 5 Predictions About the Retailer’s Delivery Drones)

Bezos said the drone could carry objects of up to 5 lb. (2.27 kg) within a 10-mile (16 km) radius of an Amazon distribution center. Given that Amazon has been steadily building distribution centers in an increasing number of urban areas, the service would theoretically cover a significant number of customers.

The craft are autonomous, Bezos said — an Amazon employee would enter a delivery recipient’s location and away the aircraft would fly.

“The hard part here is putting in all the redundancy,” Bezos said. “All the reliability to say this can’t land on somebody’s head.”

Amazon’s drone delivery service will also have to comply with the Federal Aviation Administration’s new airspace rules for unmanned aircraft, which the agency is planning to have in place by 2015.

After the 60 Minutes segment aired, Amazon shared this footage showing the system in use:

In preview segments, Bezos promised “something he wanted to unveil for the first time,” leading people on Twitter to speculate that it could be an Amazon television. Others joked that perhaps Bezos would buy CBS (he stunned the media world when it was announced in August that he had bought the Washington Post for $250 million). At least one guesser hit the nail exactly on the head:

The segment’s timing capitalized on buzz surrounding Cyber Monday and the holiday shopping season.

59 comments
stewartjohnson
stewartjohnson

Amazon deliveries by quadcopters sounds like a futuristic idea. Not sure it would be very successful in the near term. Most packages delivered by Amazon weigh at least several pounds, so advancements in quadcopter technology will be needed for this idea to be a success.


http://www.bestquadcopterspro.com/

rchelidroneman
rchelidroneman

I can't stop thinking about how this concept reminds me of the Hunger Games movie when one of the sponsors could fly in a message by a drone in the jungle. I still think we have only scratched the surface with the use of drone/quadcopters. There are already UAV's at MIT that probably will have enough algorithms to fly without a controller. http://www.pilotmart.net/ 

Robertpollock
Robertpollock

It's hard to predict how successful will the Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos idea be. Using Quadcopters for delivery is a good idea, but it may not suitable for different locations such as low-profile Asian countries. However, I can only imagine tons of drones on the sky if this project is successful. They may have to face signal, weight of the delivery and time problems. Who knows? people may get adapted to it in near future, but still remain a doubt for long-term implementation.


http://www.bestquadcoptersreviews.com/

QuadcopterGuy
QuadcopterGuy

This is never going to happen.  I think this is more propaganda from Amazon than anything else.  I review quadcopters for a living (http://bestquadcopter.info) and the speed these blades are moving at are ridiculous.  They could easily cut someone.  Also, for heavy packages, you'll need some serious gear, most likely hexa, octal copter kits.  If you think quadcopter blades are scary, you need to see those blades!

HamzaAllawala
HamzaAllawala

I believe this is somewhat a new innovative thinking of delivery of goods to their customers. This speculative delivery method has some advantages and disadvantages. Faster delivery to customers especially if they cater to customers on weekends, and national holidays. Keep only those items at the fulfillment center those are in demand. Tied up inventory cost would be low. The speculative delivery method will destroy the local retail market. Order something in the morning, getting it later in the day. Why would you shop anywhere else?" Amazon had a price advantage over other retail stores like Wal-Mart and other mom and pops stores by not charging sales tax. The theory behind the tax dodge is: Amazon being an online retail, without having a physical presence and having Distributions centers in tax-friendly states they were exempt to charge sales tax. But now amazon have agreed to charge sales tax in order to open more distribution centers so that they start the same day delivery method to put their speculative shipping method in place. However there are some disadvantages to this shipping method Amazon is giving up its price advantage that it has over other retailers for same day delivery service. They are playing a risk of gamble by giving speed and convenience to its customers than the lack of sales tax. After all at the end of the day customers is the most important thing in business. There might a decrease in online sales since shoppers not paying sales tax would be less likely to buy goods on the site if they had to pay that additional amount. I would like to question the fact of the cost this shipping method Amazon will price this at. I think this service will be designed for high-income people who can afford it easily since the cost of shipping will be more than cost of the product they have ordered. This service will be designed for customers for last minute gift shoppers or anyone craving for instant thing. Now they have got this patent, it will help prevent any other company apply this concept. 

Who knows when will this patent will come into use but I must say this is a good level of thinking and new invention of the century. 

shapiro.len
shapiro.len

STOP THE MADNESS,I SAY.    stop before we will be delivering corn flakes today and bombs tomorrow. stop being blind to the end of our humanity,our capacity to relate to each other. Stop the madness of endless gaming programs, meaningless and worthless professional sports, melting down our minds into playdough.

when will we re-capture the days of walking and not talking,or, talking to a companion,or even a stranger. when cell phones hadn't taken over our consciousness and made the whole world into a little microphone that put an end to our individuality. watch a movie from 1984, when people had themselves and each other, and not their cell phones.

Drones will blot out the sky as cell phones have blotted out each other. have we come to this- at the thanksgiving day table, multiple cell phone talking dominating the holiday celebration,blotting out the family, walling off every person,and then, rushing away to watch the TV,3D, mega-screen, with surround sound, multiple screens, and mindless,meaningless so-called sports events. Sitting with our overstuffed bellys, under-developed muscles and brains, falling into a deep sleep, finally able to turn ourselves OFF> god help us. AMAZON- THE NEXT BIG BROTHER. WE HAVE MET THE DRONES AND THEY ARE US.

shapiro.len
shapiro.len

some ideas are really great and some ideas really stink.  this idea stinks and plenty. watch a movie from the 1980s or earlier. see people walking and talking, to each other,or not at all. NO CELL PHONES. no body yelling,cursing,or just yammering away at nothing, as they cross streets full of traffic, driving a car, in an elevator etc.

People are drowning with cell phones and we all have to see them doing it.Its disgusting. they just don't stop. what the hell are they talking about? who cares- nobody,not even them. they take calls in restaurants, theatres, everywhere. At the Thanksgiving table, birthdays, anniversaries, endlessly, stupidly and incessantly.

so what does this have to do with drones?

well, this is the next wave of tech madness. we will fill our airspace,right above us, with flying machines. Just as we have filled our empty,stupid brains with endless talk,talk,talk.   do we need to have some flying piece of junk delivering another box full of more junk, we ordered on a cell phone,more junk?????

No,I say. stop the madness before its too late. we will have turned ourselves into so much junk, the human personality will devolve back to the Stone Age.

BestQuadcopter
BestQuadcopter

This could be the future of delivery and logistics (subject to the regulators). This will not happen tomorrow. It could take Amazon years and there is still no guarantee. However imagine how great it will be if big companies will invest in UAV technology that could potential save lives.

http://www.bestquadcopter.com/robots-in-flight/

marcell
marcell

its a good idea and bad because if the drone is hit by lighting it falls and your package is lost and people will be losing there jobs its good because its faster and so it probably wont get stolen 

keekimaru2
keekimaru2

Amazon can work out the regulations and figure out how to prevent your packages from being dropped on your head from above, Bezos promised, there will be a fleet of shipping drones taking the sky.

Read More : http://kindleon.com/detail.php?id_detail=77

GlenCappetta
GlenCappetta

.....it's so much cooler to know that your package got blow out of the sky than stolen off your front porch step.

RicoMandog
RicoMandog

So how do they get the $100 plastic yellow delivery boxes back? This is very silly and will never fly (pun intended) . They would be much better served by hiring people and have local pickup center, something they could implement tomorrow. I could have used them this weekend as my wife's iPhone charger broke and I did not want to fight the crowds to find and buy a new one.  

EricAugspurger
EricAugspurger

I have no idea what is wrong with so many people who have posted negative comments here. I for one cannot wait for this to be implemented nationwide. I love technology and have enjoyed every bit of it as it has been unveiled over the years - home computer, the internet, iPhone, Kindle, Roku player and internet TV - it's all been great. I'm sure this drone delivery will be a free service included with an Amazon Prime membership because it will be more cost effective for Amazon than paying a delivery driver. The different problems associated with this service will be worked out and solved and one day this will become common place. I will end up ordering small items from Amazon just to watch the little helicopter land in my driveway a few minutes later. You all need to learn to embrace the future rather than fear it because it is coming regardless of what you think.

ScottDeBeaubien
ScottDeBeaubien

So in the example in the video, the guy buys a tool for $9.95 and then spends $250 for 30 minute delivery, and we're supposed to believe that is reasonable...  I've worked in transportation, in automation much of my career.  I've helped put transportation systems in hospitals where time is critical.  When the OR needs blood for a patient, they don't even have 30 minutes to wait around, they need it in 10 minutes, or less if we're talking the ER.  But sorry, this example of somebody needing 30 minute delivery at home and paying for that level of service is pretty absurd.

itsme22
itsme22

Drones are dangerous.  What happens when one of those packages is loaded with an explosive device?

JaimeVazquez
JaimeVazquez

helium drones may work, wow BladeRunner movie wasn't so far off...

lancasterpa
lancasterpa

Drone base ball, Can't wait to take a swing at one.


UrinalGum
UrinalGum

I guess the only way to figure out how this might work is to keep ordering everything from Amazon.

garoud
garoud

First, wait until one of this things loses control and crash on an unsuspected bystander.

Second, what would stop people to use a simple net to steal not only the package but also the drone?

ClintDixon
ClintDixon

Duh there's a little hurdle called the F.A.A. Of course when the police want to use them and they will (see helicopters in major cities, drones in small towns soon). Then we will see drones littering the skies. Are we going to let every major retailer deliver things with drones?? And while 5lbs now, soon Lowes will want to drop in the the wood needed to build a home, or Sears will want to fly in refrigerators....which all would get in the way of my aircar damn it!!!

ScrappyLee
ScrappyLee

Drones are for the US to spy only, all others will be shot down.

mandycat
mandycat

If this is approved, amazon, mighty as it is, surely can't claim a copyright on the use of private drones.  That's my idea of heaven:  drones delivering packages, pizzas, flowers, who knows what.  All competing for air space over our heads, all operating on various versions of "bullet proof" software.  What could possibly go wrong with this scenario?  

callen34
callen34

This is great! If the post office adopted the same system, then we could eliminate tens of thousands more jobs there too!

herbalmagick
herbalmagick

This seems incredibly inefficient.  There's a reason UPS trucks don't pick up one box, deliver it, and then go back to the terminal to pick up another one and why the school bus doesn't pick up and deliver one student at a time.  Do you suppose those fancy plastic delivery boxes are biodegradable?

theinkandpen
theinkandpen

Everyone is raving about these though some still believe it's not possible to implement them. Some guy who worked on the NMCI program said that it is very real, not exclusive and drones have been around for a long time (though only recently reported in the media in order to make people aware of their existence).

jfmiles
jfmiles

@EricAugspurger I'm sorry, but this will not happen anytime soon, likely not in our lifetimes. The incredible amount of infrastructure needed to implement this would be phenomenal. And no, it most certainly won't be more cost effective than hiring a delivery driver - autonomous aerial vehicles cost, on average, about $8,000 per kilogram. That's probably a 10 to 15 kg vehicle to carry a 5-lb package and remain stable. There, you have $80,000-$120,000 PER DRONE. And now you need to service an entire city, state, or country. How many drones do you need? Dozens? Hundreds? Thousands? The cost of these things will quickly climb into the millions or even billions. 

Even if Amazon COULD drop that much money on these drones (spoiler: they cannot), they're hamstrung by legislation that prevents these autonomous drones from actually flying in US (or international, for that matter) airspace. Finally, these things only have a 10-mile range. Will that increase? Certainly, but only by increasing the weight of them, therefore making them more expensive. And even if they do it, they're now putting a Maserati out there for any idiot kid with a slingshot to take down. It makes absolutely no sense, and it will continue to make no sense for a very, very long time.

nix.nightbird
nix.nightbird

@itsme22  

Yes, I always go to Amazon.com to order my explosive devices. They're right there in the section marked "Housewares-- Explosive Devices", just past the egg timers. 

SuperBadger
SuperBadger

@garoud well if they take appropriate precaustions, they could set it to shut down if anything malfunctions and design it so it will hover down to the ground, that's better though not perfect but that is very unlikely anyway and I don't think it would kill anyone unless maybe it fell on a car and distracted them. And how would you know where they drone would be unless you ordered it in which case the theft will be traced to you and if not you would just have to wait around somebody's house hoping they ordered something so that the drone would get low enough. 

BrianRommel
BrianRommel

@callen34 It would be far more complex for the post office to adopt something like this. A drone wouldn't be practical when you have thousands of houses to hit in a single day. The logistics of it are far more mind boggling the what Amazon plans to do.  A ground based robot mail carrier would be more practical but would that be more or as effective then a traditional mail carrier maybe. the only thing to gain is it may be cheaper then again it may not. a robot capable of doing the same job as a mail carrier can't be very cheap and maintenance could be expensive to the point that it may be more costly to build and maintain a robot mail carrier then pay a real one. the practicality of it is questionable too. Here amazon is talking about delivering parcels to maybe a handful of people a day as the name suggest Prime may be required to take advantage of this. probably to ensure the system doesn't get overwhelmed by having a limited number of people in a day using this service per distribution center.
Its possible that  it could be more practical in the future but that could be decades from now as I barely see this working well and that would be on a much smaller scale and thats 5 years off.

ClintDixon
ClintDixon

@callen34 - any paper delivered by hand can now be delivered electronically, jobs lost of people coasting on our tax dollars, sitting reading magazines they are supposed to deliver, and replaced by tax paying jobs, is a good thing. The person who delivered the mail, if smart enough could fly a drone....

BrianRommel
BrianRommel

@herbalmagick It would be more efficent than taking the pacakes to Ups  getting sorted than putting them on trucks and deliviering them out which could take days. Imagine ordering something in the morning and having it on your porch by the end of the day. something not possible with UPS which would get your package to you in no less than 24 hours  at the very least though it could be much longer. where as this could cut the time in half or less.
i imagine a drone could cover more ground  faster then a UPS truck since it can fly over stuff. The trucks cover a larger radius then 1o miles and probably deliver more packages. this is just amazon and a the name suggests it may be Prime only which would guarantee that the number of people served per day is relatively small. Though I agree that the logistics would be a nightmare but still doable. 

JosephPuma
JosephPuma

@jfmiles @EricAugspurger Your hyper-boil makes no sense. where did you get these figures from? 80-120k per drone? The phantom 2 is only $1200 because it comes with a camera on it. The phantom 1 is only $400. It cant carry a payload like these amazon drones but it don't take much to do so. distribution plants could be setup anywhere and of course on the start of this project delivery will be limited to location and weight of delivered item. they can start this very easily with limitations and build from there. the only major obstacle I see is FDA, safety and theft. Also, wouldn't you think that the almighty Amazon lawyers  would of already figured out the legality's of actually pulling this off? Did you think they just made a cool video and said "hmmm lets see where this takes us" ? before you chime in with wild assumptions just know that there were people much smarter then you and I sorting these things out AND its cost effectiveness way before you jumped on a blog with financial assessments. 

itsme22
itsme22

@nix.nightbird @itsme22  You think Amazon is going to own the skies???  What happens when the air is filled with drones and they are used against us.  Not just explosive devices but chemicals as well?  who is going to police the air?


ChrisSlowik
ChrisSlowik

@itsme22 @SuperBadger @nix.nightbird The same way you know what's driving around on the roads. Oh wait, you don't.

Let me illustrate how silly your comments are: "You don't think a car has the capabilities to deliver a dirty bomb???"

Come on, there are real concerns. Yours is not one of them.

itsme22
itsme22

@SuperBadger @itsme22 @nix.nightbird Follow me here people.  I am not talking just Amazon.   What happens when drones are used for EVERYTHING. Pizza delivery, same day mail, groceries, etc.  Who is going to police this???  You don't  think a drone has the capabilities to deliver a dirty bomb???  How do we know what is flying in the sky.  The possibilities are endless.

SuperBadger
SuperBadger

@itsme22 @nix.nightbird  The police. Amazon doesn't sell explosive devises and dangerous chemicals and if they did why would the want to use them on people. what do they gain