Amazon is working on package-delivering drones. The company calls the product Amazon Prime Air, and says it could be in operation by 2015, depending on the FAA.
60 Minutes’s Charlie Rose broke the news about Amazon Prime Air last night in an interview with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
The segment is 15 minutes long, and it begins looking at what Amazon is currently up to — new fulfillment centres, Amazon Web Services, Kindles, high-end fashion, and producing original TV series.
Then, about 11 minutes and 20 seconds in, Bezos walks Rose into a room on Amazon’s campus and shows him some “octocopters” — the delivery drones.
The the two have this conversation:
Jeff Bezos: Let me show you something.
Charlie Rose: Oh, man…Oh, my God!
Jeff Bezos: This…
Charlie Rose: This is?
Jeff Bezos:…is…these are octocopters.
Charlie Rose: Yeah?
Jeff Bezos: These are effectively drones but there’s no reason that they can’t be used as delivery vehicles. Take a look up here so I can show you how it works.
Charlie Rose: All right. We’re talking about delivery here?
Jeff Bezos: We’re talking about delivery. There’s an item going into the vehicle. I know this looks like science fiction. It’s not.
Charlie Rose: Wow!
Jeff Bezos: This is early. This is still…years away. It drops the package.
Charlie Rose: And there’s the package.
Jeff Bezos: You come and get your package. And we can do half hour delivery.
Charlie Rose: Half hour delivery?
Jeff Bezos: Half hour delivery/and we can carry objects, we think, up to five pounds, which covers 86 per cent of the items that we deliver.
Charlie Rose: And what is the range between the fulfillment center and where you can do this within…
Jeff Bezos: These…this…this…these gener…
Charlie Rose: 30 minutes?
Jeff Bezos: These generations of vehicles, it could be a 10-mile radius from a fulfillment center. So, 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.
Charlie Rose: With drones, there’s somebody sitting somewhere in front of a screen.
Jeff Bezos: Not these; these are autonomous. So you give ’em instructions of which GPS coordinates to go to, and they take off and they fly to those GPS coordinates.
Charlie Rose: What’s the hardest challenge in making this happen?
Jeff Bezos: 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 neighbourhood’…
Charlie Rose: Yeah, that’s not good.
Jeff Bezos: That’s not good.
Jeff Bezos: And, you know, I don’t want anybody to think this is just around the corner. This is years of additional work from this point. But this is…
Charlie Rose: But will ‘years’ mean five, 10?
Jeff Bezos: I think, I, I am, I’m an optimist Charlie. I know it can’t be before 2015, because that’s the earliest we could get the rules from the FAA. My guess is that’s, that’s probably a little optimistic. But could it be, you know, four, five years? I think so. It will work, and it will happen, and it’s gonna be a lot of fun.
Here’s the clip. The drones part starts 11 minutes in.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.