The big news Sunday was Amazon’s announcement (shocking a surprised Charlie Rose on “60 Minutes”) of its planned Prime Air shipping system, where truly futuristic drone flying machines pick up a given customer’s merchandise, packaged in a yellow industrial tupperware-style box, and drop it at the customer’s door step. Amazon is boasting on its website that when the technology is fully ready customers will have their ordered items within 30 minutes.
Of course, that doesn’t apply to all packages or locations. This is referring to items weighing five lbs. or less, and to customer homes within a 10 mile radius of a distribution center.
One Marketplace reporter pooh-poohs the likelihood that this delivery system would ever actually materialize, while Tech Crunch outlines the many others who want to use drones, from weather services to Hollywood, and the myriad problems that come with them, most prominently, the likelihood of human error.
Here are a few quotes from Bezos (a full transcript from his Charlie Rose interview is here), plus Amazon’s tester video of its amazing drones (called “octocopters”):
On the drones’ safety:
“The hard part here is putting in all the redundancy, all
the reliability, all the systems you need to say, ‘Look, this thing can’t land
on somebody’s head while they’re walking around their neighborhood.”
On the drones as related to environment:
“In urban areas, you could actually cover very significant
portions of the population. And so, it won’t work for everything; you know,
we’re not gonna deliver kayaks or table saws this way. These are electric
motors, so this is all electric; it’s very green, it’s better than driving
trucks around. This is…this is all an R&D project.”
Also, according to producers of “60 Minutes,” Bezos said before the show’s taping of the drones:
“If you can guess what it is, then… I will give you half
my fortune and send you to Vegas with it.”