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Amazon bets on drone deliveries

2 December 2013, 9:03 am EST By Randell Suba Tech Times
Amazon has been developing unmanned octocopters that will be able to deliver goods to customers in just half an hour.  ( Amazon )

After a few years, drones will be everywhere. Octocopters will not only deliver pizza, do aerial photography, or bring books to university students, but anyone ordering from Amazon will get their package in just half an hour through the online retailer's PrimeAir service. This plan was revealed by Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos on Sunday during an interview with "60 Minutes."

Bezos said that the aerial vehicles-cum-delivery fleet of the company will be ready in a matter of four to five years. The Amazon Prime Air will rely on Global Positioning (GPS) system to pinpoint where it should deliver the goods.The only impediment to the quick delivery service is the set of regulations from the Federal Aviation Authority, which may rule as early as 2015. At the moment, the FAA does not permit any unmanned drone for commercial use but the enacted FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act may soon change that.

"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. We're talking about delivery. There's an item going into the vehicle. I know this looks like science fiction. It's not," said Bezos during the CBS News interview.

"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," Bezos added.

The Amazon CEO also revealed that the unmanned aerial drones might be able to carry packages of up to five pounds, which makes up 86 percent of their deliveries.

"The FAA would not let Amazon do this now. But this is precisely the type of application that Congress had in mind when it told the FAA in 2012 to come up with rules for commercial unmanned aircraft," pointed out robotics and law expert Ryan Calo of the University of Washington in an interview with USA Today.

According to Amazon, the delivery drones will be designed following commercial aviation standards and will have multiple redundancies to ensure public safety.

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