Science and Tech


Amazon CEO Unveils Delivery Drones

Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos announced on '60 Minutes' his company plans to deliver lightweight packages via drones.
Posted at 10:36 PM, Dec 01, 2013

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos showed off the next big thing for his internet retail company on CBS's "60 Minutes" Sunday. If everything goes according to plan, your future Amazon orders could arrive at your doorstep via delivery drone.

The drone delivery service, nicknamed Amazon PrimeAir, could deliver objects up to five pounds anywhere in a 10 mile radius of an Amazon warehouse. Bezos claims most PrimeAir deliveries could be made in just 30 minutes.

Bezos told "60 Minutes" host Charlie Rose: "These are effectively drones but there's no reason that they can't be used as delivery vehicles.​ ... I know this looks like science fiction. It's not.​"

Twitter took the news about as well as you'd expect: tweets hailing Bezos as this generation's Santa Claus were mixed in with sinister predictions about what Amazon might do with a drone army.

But after the shock wore off, tech writers started warming up to the idea. A Gizmodo writer speculates on some of the ways automatic, GPS-based delivery could revolutionize Amazon's business.

"People's stuff would find them wherever they were based on GPS coordinates they entered at checkout. It's not much of a stretch to think about the service using phone tracking so a PrimeAir drone could deliver extra tupperware to whichever grassy knoll your picnic ends up on."

But don't expect to see these drones in the sky anytime soon. FAA regulations prohibit Amazon from making aerial deliveries until 2015, and Bezos estimates it might take four to five years until Amazon's drone fleet is ready for takeoff.

PrimeAir was the highlight of the "60 Minutes" segment, but Bezos also discussed Amazon's history, the company's massive cloud hosting side business, and the effect Amazon's Kindle device has had on the printed paper industry.