Amazon: 'Octocopter' drone promises deliveries by 2015

'Prime Air' drones will deliver in 30 minutes, Amazon says, but air laws will have to change

LAST UPDATED AT 13:19 ON Mon 2 Dec 2013

THE online retailer Amazon has announced plans to use helicopter-style drones called 'octocopters' to deliver packages to customers within half an hour, reports Sky News.

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos unveiled the project - called Prime Air - on the American current affairs show 60 Minutes, which showed a video demonstrating how the delivery method would work.

It shows a bug-like drone attaching a package to its underside before taking off from a company warehouse.
After whizzing across an open field, the drone touches down in the back garden of a customer and releases the product, before heading back to base.

"I know this looks like science fiction," Bezos told 60 Minutes host, Charlie Rose. "It's not."
He added: "We can carry objects, we think, up to five pounds [2.3kg], which covers 86 per cent of the items that we deliver."

According to Bezos, by 2015 all customers within a ten-mile radius of a company warehouse will have the option to choose Prime Air as a method of delivery.

Not everyone is quite as optimistic. Heather Timmons lists several technical, legal and safety constraints on the business news website Quartz.

"Unmanned drones are guided by not-always-reliable GPS and equipped with metal-bladed propellers and batteries that may be prone to combustion," she says. "They're likely to be impossible to use in many urban areas or anywhere near flight paths for commercial planes."

She also argues that the current two-year timeline for the project outlined by Bezos is unrealistic given the strict regulations currently in place.

Quoting a report in The Wall Street Journal she says that drones aren't likely to be certified for this type of use until at least 2020. · 

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