Will Amazon’s Drones Be As Normal As Mail Trucks?

    December 3, 2013
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

Are you ready for a future in which unmanned drones come from the sky to deliver you products you ordered less than a half hour ago? I hope so, because that future is very close. At least Amazon hopes it is.

Do you like the idea of drones delivering products to your home? Share your thoughts in the comments.

The service is called Amazon Prime Air, and the company pretty much has it ready to go, pending FAA regulations. As long as April Fool’s Day didn’t come four months early, Amazon appears to be serious. The company has been working on it in its R&D lab. Here’s the test flight footage that shows what we’re looking at.

I like how the guy at the end seems disinterested that there’s a drone leaving him a package.

“Putting Prime Air into commercial use will take some number of years as we advance technology and wait for the necessary FAA rules and regulations,” says Amazon. “It looks like science fiction, but it’s real. 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.”

Amazon drone

“One day, Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today,” the company says in the Amazon Prime Air FAQ. “We hope the FAA’s rules will be in place as early as sometime in 2015. We will be ready at that time.”

CEO Jeff Bezos, admitted, however, that it could be four or five years.

The company notes that the FAA’s rules would prioritize public safety.

“Safety will be our top priority, and our vehicles will be built with multiple redundancies and designed to commercial aviation standards,” Amazon says.

If Amazon Prime Air becomes a reality, we have to believe many other company’s will follow suit. Including Amazon’s competitors. It’s hard to imagine that Google, for example, won’t offer up some competition, especially considering that it’s already in the autonomous vehicle business, and is already looking to compete with Amazon and eBay and quick deliveries with Google Shopping Express.

Amazon is hardly the first company to experiment with delivery-by-drone. It was only a few months ago that we were talking about Domino’s Pizza testing its DomiCopter.

But even before that, pizzas were being delivered by drone. Others have had similar ambitions.

But this is Amazon we’re talking about. Just think about the amount of business that takes place on Amazon every day. Friday saw $1.198 billion in desktop ecommerce in the U.S. alone. Amazon was the top ranked site among 66.1 million shoppers. And that’s just from the desktop.

The early drones will be somewhat limited, according to Bezos, in that they can only carry packages under five pounds, and can only carry them up to ten miles away from a fulfillment center, but there’s no reason to think that they won’t get better as time goes on if this whole thing really comes to fruition. Of course, much of where things go will rely on the regulations set forth by the FAA.

According to Bezos, 86% of Amazon’s packages are under the five-pound weight limit.

Meanwhile, Amazon continues to give users more reason to become Prime members. The company is even going head to head Netflix (or HBO and other cable networks for that matter) with original television content, and it’s all about getting more Prime members. You have to be a member to watch Amazon’s original shows (at least past the first few complimentary episodes).

Amazon also continues to rapidly expand its fulfillment center operations. News of a new Connecticut location just came out a couple weeks ago, and that was preceded with a similar announcement for Wisconsin earlier in the month.


Who knows? Maybe Amazon’s drones can keep people from having to run out for another bottle of wine, and prevent some accidents and DUIs. Maybe they’ll deliver newspapers. It would certainly be convenient to have your Amazon Fresh groceries delivered in less than 30 minutes by a drone, no?

Even more revolutionary than Sunday deliveries.

Some think the drones even have potential in B2B.

Christopher Mims at Quartz makes an interesting point comparing Prime Air to Amazon Web Services: “If Amazon can become the first company with significant resources to invest in consumer drones, it could corner the market on cheap unmanned aerial vehicles the way it’s cornering the market on cheap computing power.”

Naturally, the whole Amazon Prime Air concept has been met with some skepticism and of course parody. Good ol’ Taiwanese animation studio NMA covers both pretty well:

Someone has also set up a parody Twitter account for one of the drones:

What do you think? Do you expect delivery-by-drone to become a normal part of life, or is this something we’re going to be laughing about one day? Let us know what you think.

Images: Amazon

  • Really

    Look at all those smiling people who got their drone delivered pizza. Oh, the joy of technology. No one talks about the flip side. Constant surveillance. Invasion of privacy. More arrests for petty things in a country that already incarcerates the most people in the world and actually the history of the world. America doesn’t realize it yet, but America is the country in the world that is the closest to losing all of its freedom. Out of all the countries in the world, America is putting in the most systems to take away freedom.

    1) NSA Spying
    2) Militarization of the Police
    3) The country with the most private prisons that are making billions.
    4) The country with the most prison industries.
    5) The country with wide spread transit police.
    6) The country actively pursuing RFID chip placement.
    7) The country actively pursuing nano spy drones.
    8) The country that put in place the Patriot acts and will not repeal them.
    9) The country that expanded the Patriot Acts and created CISPA legislation.
    10) The country that has the most foreign detention camps that house people indefinitely without charge.
    11) The country monitoring all of peoples communications.
    12) The country pursuing a unified record system for all its people.
    13) The country that is actively practicing martial law drills.

    This is the United States. Name me one other country that does all this. Out of all the countries in the world, the united states will lose all of its freedoms first.

    Tyranny comes in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. What is going on is not about advancement or terrorists — it is about controlling you.

    • Yep

      It is weird you brought this up. I just got done reading an article that shows the latest polls suggest that a majority of Americans now question the government explanation of 9/11.

      The article alluded to everything you were saying. Essentially, that everything since 9/11 has been about controlling the American people and not terrorist because the reality is that all the measures the government has taken really only impact Americans. In theory, they are supposed to stop foreign or domestic terrorists, but in reality the only people impacted are Americans.

    • Not Really

      So, the Amazon Drone = Constant surveillance, invasion of privacy, NSA spying, blah, blah, blah, complete loss of freedom and ultimately Tyranny? Geez… You better stay in your cave!

      • @ Not Really

        It has happened before and will happen again. You mock people, but it doesn’t change what is happening. Tyranny comes in many forms. Right now things may not be too bad …. but 10 years from now or 50 years from now. It may not affect you. It may not affect our children. But it might your grand children.

        I am a historian and I studied Germany for years. We are exactly like Germany before WWII. I studied how the society transformed. Asked the question how could ordinary people become brutal. How could a country of people participate in mass killing. The sad part is I found my answers and I see those things in America today. Got to your local prisons …. see how guards treat inmates. Go to you local police force …. and see how cops talk about people. If those people gained full power, yes, our land would be a land of tyranny and it would happen quickly.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/chris-crum Chris Crum

      No one talks about that?

      • @Chris

        Look at the mainstream media. No one touches the subject on a meaningful level. Heck, even the Wall Street Journal, the USA Today, and Washington Post publically issued apologizes for not covering all aspects of 9/11. Essentially they were saying — we printed what we were told to.

        Nothing against you personally. Don’t take it that way. But no, everything we see is smoke and mirrors. Look at the news at night. It is always the same. The first 5-8 segments are about something horrible. Usually in descending order of bloodiness. Then there is a segment thrown in to glorify the military. Then there is a segment showing how great the police are. Then finally some feel good story about a kid or an animal. Eight stories designed to make you afraid —- two stories designed to reinforce that the authorities are good and there to help —- one story to give you hope that it isn’t so bad so you come back for more. This repeated day after day. It is classic brainwashing. Heck, they even teach it in spy ops course.

        Traumatize through fear (this paralyzes rational thinking and increases pliability) + provide saviors (cops and military – this reinforces the role of government) + dangle what could be (provide a measure of perceived relief) = the masses willing to give up everything.

        I think another commenter said this and he or she is right. We spent more money on a blowjob and a party than we did investigating 9/11. Really take time to think about this. There is only one reason when that happens. Government loves to spend money and the only time they don’t is when they don’t want to find out something.

        Really think about it. A blowjob over 3,000 people dying.

        • http://www.webpronews.com/author/chris-crum Chris Crum

          I wasn’t really looking to debate the state of the new industry, but responding to your comment: “No one talks about the flip side. Constant surveillance. Invasion of privacy.”

          Just saying I’ve seen a lot of people talking about that online.

    • http://www.stolentshirts.com Pete

      I’ll name you one country that does that… the UK

      • @Pete

        You are right and it is very interesting the UK is working hand in hand with the NSA. Funny how the two leading countries of the free world are doing the most spying and surveillance.

      • @Pete

        The US and the UK are one in the same. Throw in Australia too. We all know this on some level.

        The only difference is the people in Europe have a lot more experience. Those people will rise up and topple governments. America is only 200 some years old. Everyone here is fat, lazy, and stupid. What happens to fat, lazy, and stupid animals — they get slaughtered.

        My God, Kennedy was killed and more than likely, our own government did it. We all know this. Some people cling to the illusion it was a lone crazy guy, but anyone who has seen the evidence and knows the players — knows it was a faction within the government. Just get a chalk board, put the players on it and next to them write what part of the government the players are connected to. My God — it is overwhelming. One thing is certain — Oswald did not act alone or it wasn’t him at all.

        Americans flat out know this. Yet, they will do nothing about it. Americans are sheep.

        The only thing that will get Americans to rise up — and I mean this — is if the police come and take the guns. That is it. That is it. Then American’s will wake up and realize —- gee, the government is trying to control me. Until then, the government can do anything to Americans and they will just take it. They can kill a President or 3,000 people and Americans still won’t do a damn thing.

        I am not a gun advocate. I hate guns with a passion. I have seen people killed. But now, I support gun rights more than you can imagine. An armed populace is the last stand against tyranny. Look around us. We are nothing more than a police state. Look how they are militarizing the police. You do that to go to war. War with the people and the only thing preventing it is the fact the people have guns.

    • Alec

      “Every time we do something you tell me America will do this and will do that . . . I want to tell you something very clear: Don’t worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it.”

      Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon to Shimon Peres, October 3, 2001, as reported on Kol Yisrael radio.

    • @Really

      You are very right. People won’t like what you have to say.

      Look into nano drones. Those companies are literally negotiating with all police departments to sell them drones.

      Don’t tell me they don’t exist. Go out to YouTube and just look. They are fully functional. I worked in a police department. The officers would use cameras to spy on people and look down women’s dresses. Can you imagine what the would with drones flying around communities? I also know these conversations are happening.

  • @Really

    Americans aren’t free. They are just richer. There is a difference. They look down at poor countries but in reality, those countries are more free. They are just poor. But America is becoming poor now. A two class system. The masses are going to find out just how not free they are. America is a victim of its own propaganda. Just watch the news at night. It is all fear mongering and propaganda. That is making America blind. Travel outside this country. The world has a much different view of America. The rest of the world is not brainwashed. The rest of the world knows that Building 7 on 9/11 wasn’t hit by a plane and was brought down controlled demolition. Half of America still doesn’t even realize that there was a Building 7 on 9/11, but what do you expect from a country where 37% of Americans can’t even find their own country on a map. The rest of the world is appalled that less money was spent investigating 9/11 than was spent on Monica Lewinsky’s blowjob or George Bush’s inauguration reception.

    The worst attack in US history. Three thousand people died. And we spent more money investigating a blowjob.

    America is living a lie and like you said, it will enslave them. Applaud all this technology and all this “security”. But do so when it is turned against you. It sure has heck isn’t going to impact foreign terrorists.

  • http://www.netnotic.com Galen Sonntag

    I saw this story on the news last night and my first thought was that it’s an incredibly innovative idea. Then I thought, who else but Amazon to bring it to market? They have been innovation and efficiency leaders for over 10 years. After being the driving force behind online retailing, they are now just improving the efficiency of the distribution channel by automating the “last mile”. Cool as hell!

  • http://www.AviationConsultant.com Mike Flannelly

    I think Mr. Bezos accomplished more for his company with the announcement, (ie.. holiday name recognition) then any practical expectation that your products will one day be delivered via drone.

  • Joe

    A lot of Americans are catching on to this B.S. – Its all propaganda to set us up for whats really behind the curtain. WAKE UP!!

  • Alec

    A few days ago Amazon was in the UK paper the Guardian about how they pay their workers the absolute minimum wage with zero guaranteed hours and ‘avoid’ paying taxes in the UK by sharp business practices.

    Do you think this drone story has been released to counter that bad publicity or am I just being cynical.

    Amazon, Google, Apple, Starbucks etc etc, they all screw their workers and suppliers while amassing enormous profits and the sheeple go “baaahhhh”

  • http://www.brighternaming.com Athol Foden

    I thought this was a cool idea, then my son explained how they would be using these drones for target practice. Talk about bird or duck hunting – these folks will have a field day… for the few drones that don’t hit all those phone and elec wires in your neighborhood.

  • http://www.davidthorpe.info David Thorpe

    I agree – people will be sooting them down for the loot! It’ll be called Airways Robbery!

  • http://www.tommyrough.com TommyRough

    I’m a men’s fashion enthusiast and an online retailer of Australian made men’s fashion- so I’m interested how this will all pan out and feed down to the smaller boutique retailers like myself.
    It wasn’t so long ago that we were laughing at the the shoe phone on Get Smart! Samsung has it strapped to your wrist now.
    I guess you can’t stop progress-right?

  • http://leisurecom.com Shay

    This isnt real. It was a marketing plan by Amazon for Xmas for this story to go viral. Seems to have worked.

  • http://www.cartridgesave.co.uk Alex M

    It would be pretty hilarious if it was real – thousands of company drone delivery bots flying around colliding with stuff. The moment it hit a flock of seagulls (not the band) all hell would break loose from the RSPCA.

    Still, when I order a new DVD I expect the thing to be delivered immediately – so delivery drone it is!

  • http://www.valdavis.com Val Davis

    What happens when an unattended 2 yr old or a dog approaches those many fast moving blades? There was a story recently about a hobby enthusiast who was decapitated by his own remote control helicopter. This may need a little more thought.

  • Joe

    There could be a problem with deliveries to buildings with several residents or elderly where the item must be delivered indoors or on the porch. The recipient could have problems getting to the item it could be picked up by someone else.

  • http://www.myfloridashop.com Rose

    yep, everything I used to watch on the Jetsons growing up is coming into existence and I love it! yes, it will be as common as mail truck, if the delivery companies don’t get all crazy and try to stop it.

  • http://www.myfloridashop.com Rose

    I know many are saying it can’t work, but hey they have said that about so many things and look at all the rich people who have made the “things” work. Hello Bill Gates and other software gurus, anything can be done with the right software.Just look around….

  • http://www.seanpratt.info Sean P. Pratt

    This is another way to eliminate jobs. The impact on the post office will be devastating. Trust me when I say that you do not want to lose the post office (one of the few self sufficient government programs that exists). The alternative is private courier services and we all know what happens to the cost of services when they are privatized.

    The privacy issue is another negative factor in this issue. However, we face a bigger threat from piracy. Without (human) oversight we open the door for thieves, hackers, and terrorists (Ted Kaczynski ring any bells?).

    Think about it.

  • http://NOYB.com JR

    I like the idea that I will not have to pay for clay pigeons anymore.

  • http://www.cleverenglish.net/ Gerardo

    Who in the right mind would like to have many of these thing flying overhead?
    Also ask any bird if they would lime either?
    Tell this company to wait until transportation for immediate delivery.
    But we understand how difficult it may be the operations they I are carrying on.

  • http://justsayinmypiece.com Charlie

    Hoo-boy! OK, this whole drone-delivery thing is a bit of a stretch, I think. I know the technology is there, and I know the opportunity is there, but first the FAA has to approve the concept of hundreds (thousands?) of these things buzzing around the skies.

    If Amazon can do it, the rest of the merchants out there will undoubtedly want to as well. And, if they ALL do it, we WILL be “invaded” by these things, I’m guessing.

    Will we become accustomed to having these drones flying around everywhere? Will it mean there’s even MORE reasons for us to be paranoid about our privacy? Will our leaders who craft the “rules of engagement” for these things put the right kind of privacy enforcement protocols in place to protect us from spying eyes and ears? Will the devices be “hack-proof” so nobody can overtake their controls and use them for inappropriate purposes? Will “terrorists” (etc.) use “mock delivery drones” to deliver things to cause harm?

    I do think we have a lot of questions that need good answers before something like this becomes reality. Perhaps in our grandchildren’s time, huh? I’m just sayin’…

  • Paul

    I am ecstatic about this innovation. It means that when I order something, Amazon will be able to deliver it to the wrong address so much quicker!