Amazon unveils futuristic scheme to use drones for package delivery
AFPWASHINGTON -- Want that Amazon order in just 30 minutes? Company CEO Jeff Bezos says he hopes to soon deploy an armada of mini-drones able to drop small packages at your doorstep.
December 3, 2013, 12:08 am TWN
The U.S. online retail giant's revolutionary project still needs extra safety testing and federal approval, but Bezos believes that Amazon “Prime Air” would be up and running within four to five years.
“These are effectively drones but there's no reason that they can't be used as delivery vehicles,” Bezos told CBS television's “60 Minutes” program late Sunday.
“I know this looks like science fiction. It's not,” he said.
“We can do half-hour delivery ... and we can carry objects, we think, up to five pounds (2.3 kilograms), which covers 86 percent of the items that we deliver.”
A video posted on the company's website shows a prototype drone. The body of the device is about the size of a flat-screen monitor, and it is attached to eight small helicopter rotors and sits on four tall legs.
The claws under the belly of the “octocopter” then latch onto a standard sized plastic bucket that rolls down a conveyer belt at Amazon's fulfillment center. Inside the bucket is the order.
The drone lifts off and whizzes into the air like a giant mechanical insect to deliver the package just 30 minutes after clicking the “pay” button on Amazon.com. Then it buzzes back into the air and returns to base.
The mini-drones are powered by environmentally friendly electric motors and can cover areas within a 10-mile (16-kilometer) radius of fulfillment centers, thus covering a significant portion of the population in urban areas.
The drones operate autonomously and follow the GPS coordinates they receive to drop the items off the target locations.
“It's very green, it's better than driving trucks around,” said Bezos.