Amazon reveals "octocopter" drone delivery system

New "Prime Air" project aiming to have packages delivered by unmanned aerial vehicles to customers in 30 minutes or less.

Online retail giant Amazon wants to deliver packages to your door via a new helicopter drone delivery service the company is calling Prime Air. The service, first announced on 60 Minutes last night, is a product of Amazon's R&D department and is years away from becoming a commercial reality, CEO Jeff Bezos said.

The goal of the new delivery service is to have packages delivered to shoppers in 30 minutes or less. The 8-propeller "octocopter" drones Amazon plans to use for the service are about the size of a remote-controlled airplane and are capable of carrying shoebox-sized packages of up to 5lbs. This covers 86 percent of the items Amazon delivers, Bezos said.

The drones are completely unmanned and will rely on GPS to deliver their packages. Early prototypes are capable of flying 10 miles from an Amazon fulfillment center, which would cover a "very significant portion of the population" in urban areas, Bezos said. Prime Air won't work for larger and bulkier products, of course, like kayaks and tablesaws.

"It looks like science fiction, but it's real," Amazon said.

Commercial availability for Prime Air is not expected until 2015 at the earliest, pending approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is creating rules for unmanned aerial vehicles, Amazon said.

"The FAA is actively working on rules and an approach for unmanned aerial vehicles that will prioritize public safety," the company said. "Safety will be our top priority, and our vehicles will be built with multiple redundancies and designed to commercial aviation standards."

Amazon expects drone delivery for packages to become commonplace in the future. "One day, Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today," the company said.

Check out an Amazon Prime Air video below, showing off a prototype unit.

60 Minutes airs on GameSpot parent company network CBS.

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Eddie Makuch

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.
230 comments
Michael Rogers
Michael Rogers

How many kill streaks do you have to have to earn an Amazon Drone delivery?

bikskit
bikskit

Phase One of Skynet Activation almost complete.

SaintJimmmy
SaintJimmmy

it looks like a really cool idea but, it's hard to ignore all the glaring massive problems associated with this plan

GH05T-666
GH05T-666

That is awesome, I hope this is the future of online delivery's. 

I hope people don't start shooting them down to steal stuff though

Brandon Johnson
Brandon Johnson

UPS, Fedex, and USPS all leave packages on your front door if you aren't home and it's not within a certain price range. I've come home countless times from work to new packages.

VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

Well snap. That's pretty cool. I hate waiting a week for my stuff to get here.

Craig King
Craig King

You would get people throwing rocks at it.

SpicaAntares
SpicaAntares

It's just a gimmick, can't work.

I know they spent close to $800 millions into robotic research (while declaring $30 millions in profits) to replace underpaid, overworked workers in their warehouses. What we see is probably one of the results.

Are you aware they ask their workers to sign contracts by which they can't speak about their working conditions to family, friends and *journalists*.

From what I've heard their work is controlled by computers, with a countdown timer between each picks. Every worker is expected to increase it's productivity in an unlimited fashion. Performance of each and every worker around the world is centralized in a single data bank and compared, to put each and everyone in competition. All warehouses are build in high unemployment area to get a docile and underpaid work force. No workers are allowed to speak to one another. And so on...

Expect that slave labor to be replaced by robots soon.

We don't have to go to China or some Asian country to find horrors in working conditions...



zpluffy
zpluffy

All it takes is someone getting hit by these rotor blades, and ba bye future

matttxx88
matttxx88

@zpluffy Not necessarily. If someone got run over by a delivery truck, would they cease delivering via truck?  Small incidents few and far between won't stop Amazon from pursuing this wicked sweet future I truly hope becomes reality. There are potential issues, but I hope they come up with solutions for each of those problems.

SpicaAntares
SpicaAntares

@zpluffy 

A thing like that is made to work inside a warehouse. Nothing to protect from the blades because they don't care about those who'll received them in their faces.

fillup0
fillup0

@matttxx88 @zpluffy An autonomous robot slicing someone will be far less forgivable than human error, just saying. The idea is there, but the things just do not have enough safety and general features so far.

zpluffy
zpluffy

@fillup0 @matttxx88 @zpluffy 

Unless they develop blades that don't harm when touch, I could see it might be working. But Kids can get pretty curious about this cool stuff and might suddenly run towards one of these things when they see them in their backyard.

Stiler
Stiler

I for one really do hope that this isn't as "Common" as amazon hopes. 

We have already polluted our ground and put so much on it, from roadways to the traffic of cars, etc and what limited air space we have that isn't taken up my jets/planes (which you only see maybe a few times a day if at that) to also be cluttered up with these?

I would hate when I have a kid and want to take him out fishing or something to have these things constantly buzzing overhead going all over the place back and fourth, that would be a huge nuisance imo. 

I mean imagine like the scene from Fifth Element or BAck to the future with all those flying cars, no imagine those being these drones flying all around the place.

fillup0
fillup0

@Stiler Keep in mind it's only for certain products and for prime customers. I imagine there will be an extra charge for these things too. Also they're tiny so I don't imagine them cluttering the airspace.

X-RS
X-RS

What about when its windy? How high can it go? What if I want one? (and whatevers in it) Will it likely be worth more than the contents? Whats the life expectancy of this method of shipping? How many Amazon stockists really are there? What if this actually works and you get a flash mob of cyclists?

bakasora
bakasora

what does this have anything to do with games?


Jestersmiles
Jestersmiles

hella early April Fools? if its real, I will take one for my fridge.


Spartan_418
Spartan_418

Sounds like it might be feasible if the drones were controlled by human pilots. A lot of problems would arise from them being completely automated

Michael Wise
Michael Wise

So I will require a gun. Let the drone hunting commence! At least I know I can win prizes :D.

SpicaAntares
SpicaAntares

A little wind and my package goes to my neighbour...

poomonger613
poomonger613

i sooo want to see one of these drop a care package in my back yard

Adam Hefferon
Adam Hefferon

"Falling PS4 kills XBOXOne owner, Console war claims first victim"

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

This sounds absolutely absurd.  I hope they go through with it just to see  the hilarious results.

Copters flying into power lines and exploding.  Mid air collisions.  Copter flying through someone's window.   Copter dropping the package on your roof.  Copter delivering your package to the neighbors.  Dogs attacking the copter after it lands in the yard.  Some redneck taking out copters with a shotgun after they fly over his property.  People hijacking them and stealing the contents.  Copter being attacked by a hawk or crashing into a flock of birds.

metallunar
metallunar

So the question is when is Newegg going to make their own delivery drones?

DAOWAce
DAOWAce

Amazon fresh produce, here we go!

codac
codac

*Morpheus voice*  "MACHINESSSSS!"

Nob Bodee
Nob Bodee

Basically begging people to take pot shot at it. I don't blame them.

Aryck1095
Aryck1095

These are not the droids we're looking for... :)

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

What, and you get to keep the plastic tub?

I'll admit that this is a pretty cool idea. Does everyone live only 10 miles away from a "fulfillment" centre though?

Got to say though, while I quite like seeing commercial aircraft elegantly floating overhead at a great height, I'm not sure I like the idea of seeing loads of these ugly buggers buzzing overhead all the time.

It;s actually slightly scary the lengths Amazon are going to these days.

John Martins
John Martins

Thank you, mister computer, for relaying that information to me.

John Martins
John Martins

Endless bitching here, but people seem to assume Amazon haven't thought about any of this. Are you all really that dense? These would have been the very first questions they asked themselves. If they didn't have answers and solutions, it wouldn't be a viable business proposition. The fact they've gotten this far suggests they do in fact have some pretty good ideas.

Kaiser499
Kaiser499

This is only a ploy to get us to accept "friendly" drones patrolling the skies daily, then they will add security cameras to them to "prevent" people from stealing the loot and then we would have all been suckered into accepting more invasion of our privacy.

billlabowski
billlabowski

It's cool until someone shoots it out of the sky and steals the "loot". 

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

@billlabowski Yeah, it's inevitable. Hell, I think even I'd find the temptation too much. Then you've got bird-strikes to worry about. If they can bring down the occasional airliner, I can't see one of these things coming out it fine condition.

John Howley
John Howley

ohhh and that makes it okay then ppfftt