Amazon offers a range of shipping options, including free 2-day shipping for Amazon Prime subscribers and free 5-8 day shipping for customers that spend $35 or more on select items. Soon there may be another option: Delivery within a half hour… by air… by autonomous drone. Seriously.
The company is working on a project it calls Amazon Prime Air, and it could be available as soon as 2015.
Basically Amazon would be able to stick packages that weigh less than 5 pounds and stick them in a box, attach them to an octicopter, and program it to fly to your address and drop off a package, bypassing USPS, UPS, FedEx, and other traditional parcel carriers.
Since most packages Amazon ships do weigh less than 5 pounds, theoretically Amazon Prime Air could handle a huge amount of orders.
At this point the FAA doesn’t have regulations in place for flying unmanned vehicles on this kind of scale, but Amazon says it expects to have the technology ready to go by the time those regulations are in place, which could be within the next few years.
After Amazon decided to start offering instant, live video support to Kindle Fire customers with the introduction of the Mayday button this year, I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised when the company comes up with crazy new ideas that seem like they’d be hard to scale. But this still seemed a bit surprising — it certainly caught CBS journalists off guard when Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos showed it off at the conclusion of an interview.