We checked the calendar and it isn't April Fool's Day. On last night's 60 Minutes Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled a ridiculous new proposal: Prime Air, a drone delivery system that aims to deliver packages to you within 30 minutes or less by 2015.
Amazon Prime Air will deploy octocopters that can carry packages up to five pounds (which is what 86 percent of Amazon orders are anyway) within a 10 mile radius of the shipping facility. (No Xbox One delivery by drone for you guys!) As shown in the company's concept video below, packages will be sent in what look to be plastic containers that can be securely held by the drones.
Although no details were shared on how the drones would reach their destination, it isn't hard to imagine them using a GPS route à la Parrot AR.Drone 2.0. For all we know, Amazon could even hire teams of remote control flyers to steer them using an onboard camera.
While a drone delivery service sounds great (like that taco delivery system), there are some very real roadblocks that could keep Amazon Prime Air's drones grounded. You see, while you can fool around with a toy drone for a few minutes, a network of drones for commercial purposes would require regulation under the Federal Aviation Administration.
Without proper safety regulations in place, what would happen if drones malfunctioned and started crashing all over the place or fell out of the sky? And what happens if the drones and the packages they're carrying are intercepted by thieves? Those are important questions and Amazon says it's committed to safety first. Right now, to create a fail-proof drone delivery system requires prep work (lots of it).
Just as airplanes don't get built and flown overnight across country, neither do drones. Amazon says its drones will be "built with multiple redundancies and designed to commercial aviation standards."
When the FAA finishes hashing out its rules, Amazon will be right there, at the front; ready to deploy it drones.
Amazon Prime Air might sound like complete BS right now (as our Interim Editor Evan Ackerman puts it), but it's still an optimistic plan. Amazon's website says "Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today." As with all technology, what sounds like science fiction now may be very real in the future.