Bezos reveals plans for 30 minute drone-based delivery

Bezos was on 60 Minutes yesterday and spoke about Amazon’s plans for Prime Air, a 30 minute drone-based delivery service. This is from Amazon’s Prime Air page:

We’re excited to share Prime Air — something the team has been working on in our next generation R&D lab.

The goal of this new delivery system is to get packages into customers’ hands in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles.

Putting Prime Air into commercial use will take some number of years as we advance the technology and wait for the necessary FAA rules and regulations.

This is absolutely fantastic to me, in both sense of the word (fanciful and wonderful). If it was anyone else, I would be skeptical to the point of disbelief. But Bezos has done the improbable many times, and just might have what it takes to clear the logistical hurdles to pull this off. And lest you think this is pure marketing fluff, watch the video to see how far along this project is. Wow.

Here’s a link to the entire interview. Gotta love Charlie Rose.



  • DaWooster

    Hmm. It has some inherent limited utility.

    • Heavy winds and storm conditions would prevent such a delivery from being made. • Only small and light packages could make the trip. • Destination can only be within 30 minutes from the takeoff point. • Are apartments disqualified from delivery? And what determines the drop off point itself? • What’s to prevent jerk folks with projectiles from shooting those things down?

    • Dave Mark

      And a slight add to that, what’s to prevent folks from grabbing the copter as it lands. That seems inevitable to me. There’s a big jerk factor involved. And if it was anyone else but Bezos, I’d say no way.

  • Joseph Blake

    It’s a neat idea, but before you get too enamored with “how far along” it is, anyone with about $1500 could make that video right now.

  • Moeskido

    Am I the only one who thinks this is a silly and frivolous stunt campaign?

    • Martin Johnson

      I agree that it is silly and frivolous, but Bezos doesn’t tend to go in for stunts that I can recall. I think he’s crazy enough to try and get this going but I don’t believe that everything that comes out of his imagination is gold.

      • Canucker

        He had to show 60 Minutes something new. Plus, now he gets another sinkhole project to explain to investors why Amazon isn’t making money.

        • DaveChapin77

          THIS ^^^

        • tylernol

          exactly. Will Amazon be profitable after all its drones are deployed? With the limited drone range, Amazon will have to build out even more warehouses.

  • http://geekfun.com/ Erik S.

    I suspect that this is, in large part, a PsyOp.

  • dr.no

    Autonomous Drones are college level research project. Not deployed by Richer companies than Amazon. Not by Japanese. Not by Defense companies. Not by Gov.

    DOD has prize of autonomous disaster recovery robot. PBS’s NOVA had show on future of drones.

    and NHK had this show called Robot Revolution. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9ou1ZdDmrs

  • Martin Johnson

    The AirPrime service is limited to packages under 5lbs, however Bezos says 80% of items they sell fall in that category. Also it’s not so much the destination has to be within 30 mins but 10 miles, which is pretty impressive for a small, autonomous drone flight.

    As for the video being a testament to how far along the project is Joseph Blake is right, all there are is a couple cuts of a drone moving a couple feet at a time.

    I’m not sure how Bezos will get regulatory approval for these things. To be of any use we’re talking about hundreds of drones operating inside of a 10 mile radius. What happens when one has a malfunction and crashes? What if it crashes in the middle of the road and causes a car accident. What happens when a kid sees the drone dropping off a package and runs out to get the package AND the drone and gets injured?

    Its a cool idea but I really don’t see how this is practical for Amazon to even spend time on.

    • G

      “What happens when one has a malfunction and crashes? What if it crashes in the middle of the road and causes a car accident. What happens when a kid sees the drone dropping off a package and runs out to get the package AND the drone and gets injured?”

      One could pretty much say all those things about a bus or taxi pulling up in front of a residence. Or private airplanes crashing. Alway reasons something cannot be done. Remember, Bezos is also building his own spacecraft, so no telling what he might be able to accomplish.

      • http://www.laugh-eat.com/ kyron

        im not sure i see the connection between being rich enough to build a spaceship, and the discussion at hand on the practical matter of hundreds of drones flying around urban areas.

    • http://blog.nicholasmodesto.com/ DigitizedSociety

      “80% of items they sell fall in that category”. That is great, but what is the percentage of all of their customer orders being under a total of 5lbs?

  • sj660

    Na. Ga. Hap. Pen.

  • Canucker

    It’s the new piñata game! Random free stuff flying overhead. Wonder if we’ll see “security” drones accompanying the payload delivery drones?

  • http://www.yourmaclifeshow.com/ Shawn King

    “If it was anyone else, I would be skeptical to the point of disbelief.”

    Sorry but you should be skeptical regardless. This doesn’t pass the Laugh Test.

  • EVHalen

    The plump, smurf-world version of a Mitt Romney-like customer complete with mom-jeans tells me everything I need to know about this retarded idea…

  • http://www.laugh-eat.com/ kyron

    it’ll never fly, orville.

  • tylernol

    tacocopter. I will be impressed when that rolls out.

    http://tacocopter.com

  • http://www.johncblandii.com John C. Bland II

    I wait for this! :-)

  • Zurkram

    You don’t really believe this is going to happen do you?

  • Kurt Trew

    Have you seen Waterstone’s (UK Bookseller) reaction to this? http://www.waterstones.com/blog/2013/12/introducing-o-w-l-s/