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.

Amazon Prime Air

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.

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9 replies on “Amazon working on half-hour delivery-by-drone service: Amazon Prime Air”

  1. It’s a good joke. Why isn’t anyone laughing? I’m pretty sure these things are painfully delayed by just about anything I’d describe as “weather.” Rain or fog, obvious problems. Wind. And temperatures below freezing are going to serious eat into battery performance, aren’t they? What round trip range could Amazon hope to achieve, and how many local-level warehouses do they have?

  2. If you bought a drone I suppose it’s an outstanding means of delivery.

  3. nothing but a publicity stunt…I stopped Amazon shopping after they started taxing me..

  4. well even if the thing crashed in your front yard the items would probably still be n better shape than after UPS and FedEx gets thru trampling them to death….

    1. My luck the danged critter would get stuck high up in a tree and they’d bill me for it.

  5. cool idea but i am not sure how this will play out… I am guessing you have to be pretty close to the distribution center.

  6. I have to wonder if the folks at Amazon are laughing at 60 minutes right now. I have trouble believing that Amazon is completely serious about this. What about people with butterfly nets made from steel mesh intercepting the drones on their way and hijacking the delivery?

    More seriously, a campus like setting where there are regular courier/mail/delivery routes between buildings that are run the same company might benefit from owning a few drones.

    1. You wouldn’t even need steel mesh. Nylon would be enough. It would get caught in the motors and jam them.

      1. Good point. And that little boy in the video who comes out of the house after the copter leaves? What if he’s playing on the lawn before it arrives? He knows it has something good for him, and reaches out to touch it as it is landing. Goodbye fingers, hello lawsuit.

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