Amazon.com, the major online retailer, unveiled a new initiative to deliver its products to customers via drone. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told 60 Minutes that it was exploring using octopcopters (a close cousin to the quadcopter, though with four blades instead of eight) to deliver packages to customers within 30 minutes – a new service that Amazon has dubbed “Amazon Prime Air.”
Check out their promotion video for the Amazon Prime Air:
While still at least 4-5 years off in the horizon, this is a really exciting project! There are numerous technical, legal, and practical obstacles to overcome, but this has the potential to really change delivery systems as we know them. Bezos said “The hardest challenge of making this happen is going to be demonstrating to the standards of the FAA that this is a safe thing to do.” But if it can do that, it has the potential to offer a relatively low cost, yet extremely quick, final mile delivery service – and would further Amazon’s displacement of traditional retail stores.
While there aren’t many details of the setup of their octocopters available yet, I’m curious as to what kind of battery life they’re getting, maximum payload capacity, how it handles adverse weather conditions, etc. These octocopter drones would likely have a fairly limited range – say, somewhere between 5-50 miles, so it would be interesting to see what markets would be served as an Amazon fulfillment center would have to be located nearby.
Let us know what you think of this plan – will it work? What kind of hardware will they be using? Is this even a good idea? Looking forward to your thoughts and debate! For now, check out all the quadcopters Amazon sells – but only via regular delivery!