Amazon reveals their secretive testing of GPS-equipped delivery drones.
Home delivery may be changing in the near future, as the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, has admitted to their Prime Air project. While there have been some suspicions regarding this project, nobody knew for sure what it was about until Bezos opened up to 60 Minutes about the research.
Bezos announced that Amazon has been using delivery drones to test possible package delivery going directly to customer’s doors in a very short period of time. GPS tracking has been helping them in the testing stages of the project.
The testing stage has been going on for quite some time in a development lab in Seattle, Washington, where Amazon’s corporate headquarters are located. Though the project is still about five years from being approved. If they are approved by the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), customers could have their packages delivered by these drones in an hour or less.
Even Bezos himself admits the “octocopters” look like science fiction devices, but they can be used as delivery vehicles, providing fast and easy delivery of customer’s packages. According to Bezos, the drones are currently able to carry up to five pounds, which is 86 percent of the items sold through Amazon. Through the testing phase of the project, they are looking at a range of ten miles and hoping to cover most of the urban populated areas.
These drones are slightly different than those used in the military. They will not require remote controlling by people, but will use GPS devices to input specific coordinates and have the drone fly directly to the residence or business. With the tracking technology, sensors will allow for avoidance of nearby power lines, buildings and additional obstacles.
Some concerns about these delivery drones include issues with privacy, traffic safety, homeland security and legal obstacles. The biggest issue right now is making sure the drones avoid obstacles, since they are operated through GPS devices and not humans controlling their movement and location. There will also likely be areas of the country where they can not enter, such as in Washington DC where there are no-fly zones. Other issues include potential accidents and who would be liable for the damages.
Technology entrepreneur Ray Kurzweil told reporters that this advanced technology can often be a double-edged sword. He said, “Fire kept us warm and cooked our food but also was used to burn down our villages.” He goes on to explain that the execution of this idea is the most difficult part, as the technology already exists.
The founder of Amazon is no stranger to taking unconventional ideas and creating something phenomenal. Bezos began his company from a garage in Seattle by selling books online and turned into the largest online retailer in the world. As of now, the delivery drones could technically be used for recreational use, but not commercial use. The law so far has not kept up with the advancement in technology, so it will still be a few more years before this idea can be a reality for consumers.