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Amazon Reveals "Prime Air", Their Plans For 30-minute Deliveries By Drone 397

Posted by samzenpus
from the amazon-air dept.
Z80xxc! writes "Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos revealed during a CBS 60 Minutes interview that the company is working on a service called 'Prime Air' to deliver packages by autonomous octocopter drones within 30 minutes of hitting the 'buy' button. The plan still requires more testing and FAA approval, but Bezos predicts it'll be available to the public in the next 4-5 years. With a lot of backlash against drones, and some towns even offering bounties to shoot them down, will this technology ever take off, or is this just another one of Amazon's eccentric CEO's fantastical flight ideas?"
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Amazon Reveals "Prime Air", Their Plans For 30-minute Deliveries By Drone

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  • Re:Stupid media bait (Score:4, Informative)

    by N1AK (864906) on Monday December 02, 2013 @09:42AM (#45573719) Homepage
    Just because you're self-opinionated enough to think you know something and yet unimaginative enough to not be able to think of anything weighing 2kg or less worth delivering by drone doesn't mean things don't exist.

    The last 10+ things I have ordered from Amazon or Ebay are all well below 2kg. The majority of things I buy from them are below 2kg: Books, CDs, DVDs, Games, tablet case, address book, aftershave, diary, USB-Micro USB cable, Radiator keys, plug converter etc. It turns out that bricks aren't the only thing you can order from online stores.
  • Re:Crime? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Monday December 02, 2013 @09:43AM (#45573725)

    Yeah, I had them leave two new Nexus phones sticking out of the box by the front door. They actually do it all the time, and even left a $1500 laptop sitting there. They, UPS, and others do it all the time. The good part is that I don't know anyone who's ever had something go missing. Yay Canada. I was reading something from someone from eastern Europe who came here about the things he found the most different about this country. Where he was from this was apparently unheard of , as anything left at your door would go missing. I'm guess that in some areas here it would be the same though.

    I think having something dropped off by drone would call a lot of attentiopn to it sa well, as for a devemt amount of time it would be quite the novelty.

  • "4-5 Years" (Score:5, Informative)

    by FuzzNugget (2840687) on Monday December 02, 2013 @10:13AM (#45573921)
    For the uninitiated, that's marketingese for "we have no fucking clue."
  • Re:Stupid media bait (Score:5, Informative)

    by rolfwind (528248) on Monday December 02, 2013 @10:59AM (#45574209)

    Bezos said in the new 60 minutes, it will handle payloads of 5lbs, enough for 86% of it's sold merchandise.

    Second, this system could be used in China sooner than here, and being tested by a large package delivery:
    http://qz.com/120654/china-could-become-the-first-country-to-legalize-parcel-delivery-by-drone/ [qz.com]

    The technology just isn't robust enough to be scaled up to meaningful numbers - crashes due to mechanical faults are inevitable

    The thing has 8 rotors. It needs 4 maybe to fly with stability. It has redundancy out the ass.

    Octocopters are good-weather toys. They cannot be flown in heavy winds. "Sorry, no deliveries today, it's too windy". Yeah. Right.

    Well, I'm sure amazon will have a zip code system and weather tie-in to mark the where and when availability that shows are hides the "Delivery by Air" button. Since this will be purely a convenience feature with a corresponding fee, it's not a business breaker.

    But for me, this type of system would make much more sense in fastfood delivery systems.

    Who wouldn't pay a buck or two to have it delivered at the location marked by smart phone GPS, instead of fighting traffic and using up gas/time?

  • by Rich0 (548339) on Monday December 02, 2013 @11:07AM (#45574283) Homepage

    Hate to break it to you, but the only aircraft that have to meet the safety standards that Boeing and Airbus meet are those running published airline routes.

    The news helicopter flying overhead is regulated to a lower standard. The private jet carrying some CEO across the country is regulated to a lower standard. Larry Elison flying his own personal jet is regulated to an even lower standard still, and the guy buzzing over your house in the plane he built himself is regulated to the lowest standard of all.

    That said, there are standards, and the FAA has standards for drones as well. The level of rigor largely depends on:
    1. How heavy the plane is (a little RC aircraft might give your kid a cut if it crashed into them, a cessna would squish them like a bug).
    2. Whether the operation is recreational or commercial (flying is expensive, so not too many people are put at risk if their free airplane ride is a bit risky - but self-sustaining operations are a different story).
    3. Whether a commercial operation involves an airline route (if the CEO is paying for the plane he is riding on, chances are he's going to not be cheap on the maintenance budget - when you just buy a plane ticket you're at the mercy of the megacorp maintaining the plane).

    For the most part commercial operations tend to be much safer than flying, and recreational operations tend to be about as safe as riding a motorcycle - more hazardous than a car, but not outside the realm of normal activity. Planes by their very nature tend to be fairly light, so their damage potential for those not in the cabin is actually pretty low when compared to the analogous ground-based activity (cars, trucks, trains, freighters, etc).

    I'm sure the FAA would consider this a commercial operation and regulate it accordingly. Right now the regulations are actually so tight that anything but experimental/developmental use is impractical (usually you have to have human operators able to take manual control, observers watching the drone, etc). I imagine that they'll only remove the leash when somebody comes up with a system that is fairly robust. Besides, a drone capable of carrying a package any distance is going to be expensive - you wouldn't just want to be losing them due to failures all the time.

  • Re:Stupid media bait (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 02, 2013 @11:18AM (#45574383)

    He is full of crap...
    Empty take off weight of airbus a380:
    276,800 kg (610,200 lb)

    But it can fly more than 2x its weight...
    575,000 kg (1,268,000 lb)

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