Remember that Australian startup that was working on a drone-based textbook delivery service? That company was called Flirtey, and while their idea was still in the early proof of concept phase it promised to potentially be a novel delivery service.
Amazon has just revealed that they too are working on drone delivery concept. It's called Amazon Prime Air, and like Flirtey's drone platform it too is still in its infancy.
The retail giant is looking to solve their service and delivery issues once and for all. While some of Amazon's competitors (like Google) are working to build a same-day delivery service which would compete with Amazon, the Seattle-based retailer is planning to take their promise of free 2 day shipping to the next level. They're aiming for a 30 minute delivery promise with Amazon Prime Air.
According to Amazon they plan to be ready by the time that the FAA finalizes regulations for commercial unmanned aerial vehicles:
From a technology point of view, we'll be ready to enter commercial operations as soon as the necessary regulations are in place. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is actively working on rules for unmanned aerial vehicles.
Yeah, I don't believe they'll pull that off, but they have managed to get the drones flying (for the demo video, at least):
Assuming they do pull it off this is only going to be available in select metro areas, and coverage will be spotty at best.
There are are far too many areas that are too built up for the drones to navigate safely, and their range will be what, 40 miles as the crow flies? If the distance is any longer than that then Amazon won't make the 30 minute window, I don't think.
All in all, I think this is probably going to be a premium shipping option - if it happens at all. And I hope these drones do one day take off on their maiden voyage; I am too much of a geek not to want to see the future come one step closer.
Automated delivery services like Amazon Prime Air have been showing up in SF novels for decades now, with authors like Arthur C Clarke, Vernor Vinge, and Robert Heinlein all putting their spin on the idea.
But until today the idea was at best science fiction (Flirtey not withstanding). What are the chances that Amazon might be the first to make this a reality?
Update: I now have the 60Minutes segment about the drones. They have a 10 mile range so I really don't see what use they will be. You can skip to about 11 minutes in: