Subscriber Discussion

How I Got Clowned By Amazon Drones

Amazon has recently revealed it's newest experimental drone-based delivery system Amazon Prime Air, and while it seems to have good intentions, real world application could be a real stretch. The service is scheduled to be available sometime in 2015, after complying with the Federal Aviation Administration’s regulations, and much more R&D. Another interesting article of this service can be found on Time Tech.

With only a claimed 10-mile radius of delivery from shipping centers, and the prospect of people deliberately shooting the drones down, what do you think? Will getting your ~5lb. package in 30 minutes be worth the price? What do people do with the container once the package is delivered? There are many questions, with very few answers.

Below is the video Amazon presented of the system/service.

"The service is scheduled to be available sometime in 2015."


Here's what they said exactly:

Do you also believe that Avigilon works with any third party camera?

Amazon said nothing about it being "scheduled". They said they hoped a government agency allowed it as early as 2015. This is a huge difference. It may be semantics to you, but professional marketing people tend to choose their words very carefully. They want you to infer that this means 2015 but it depends on major developments beyond their control.

Btw, here's a good critique on the tactics and logistical issues involved.

IPVM has a number of reports on drones and surveillance:

Pretty ambitious of Amazon considering the FAA has been trying to get some drone standards in place for a while now. Every year they say they'll be ready "next year." That article says the FAA wants to have standards done by 2015, but earlier this year, it said it hoped to have the standards done by 2016. First will come standards for government agencies, then will come standards for commercial/private entities.

That said, I think drone deliveries are one of those things that are cool and interesting, but not really needed.

I think this is a marketing gimmick and a publicity stunt, nothing more.


From everything I've read about drones, they're not very efficient at carrying large payloads. There would be all kinds of logistical issues with safety, weather, batteries going dead on the return trip (or, even on the delivery trip), people making a sport of shooting them down and so forth. That's before you even get to the FAA regulatory issues.

I'm kinda surprised they didn't just save this for an April 1st press release.

Your package was not delivered because of the following reason:

[x] Bird Strike

Depends if the drones go faster than birds or not. Birds don't usually collide with one another.

Here's a great breakdown from Dan Lyons, who is a veteran of these types of PR games. Must reading for Derek and anyone else who falls for this.

Wow, that article is illuminating. Thanks John.

How will the drone know where the front or back door is? how will it not just drop it off on mt roof. What prevents me from kidnapping (dronenapping?) the drone when it has touched down(maybe gps locator/self destruct mechanism!!)? What about rain/snow/high winds. I dont get it, it seems like a REALLY cool step into the future but big giant waste of money and resources.

Very easy if they have people flying them.

Sure, that will scale. Dedicate a drone pilot to a delivery of a lightweight (and therefore more likely than not low price/low margin item) for 20-30 minute round trip flight?

This drone concept is already fairly well debunked.

I don't know if that would be too much of an issue for them. I think in the video he said that 86% percent of their inventory is lightweight enough.

Are 86% of their total *orders* lightwight enough? Are 86% of their *customers* within drone-range of a warehouse?

For the areas where this has the slightest possibility of being practical, bike messengers are probably cheaper, and avalable today.

Also, I wouldn't take too many things from that video as hard evidence of the practicality of this. The whole thing seems more like a PR stunt/distraction than anything approaching a feasible model.

GPS could fly to your location and human could land the done.

One person could manage many.

DJI is very precise.

Of course. And then Rosie the Robot can sign for the delivery.

its Google LET THEM BURN THRU THE CASH!!!!!! thay have tons of the stuff and it will help the entire drone community

and in the long run the Feds will kill the idea anyway dont want us in the Federal Governments air space....

Seth, it's actually NOT Google. It's Amazon.

Amazon is on fire as a company. Them and Google are the most intriguing companies to me. Always innovating and not afraid to push the boundaries. Its seems a little far fetched to me as well, but gotta give it up to them for trying.

I want to be an Amazon drone operator, that would be so cool.

One person who didn't get clowned by Amazon Drones: FedEx CEO Fred Smith.

Dubai has a similar idea, and they plan to have their drone delivery system in service within the year!

Well, it's that time of year again, and with the parcel system working at full capacity, Amazon is once again doing its part by rolling out a brand new drone delivery service video...

This one features real footage of what an Amazon Prime delivery would actually look like were it actually to occur someday.

A visit from The Post of Christmas Future...

Informative: 1
Unhelpful: 1

I live in a Prime Same Day delivery zone. I gotta tell you guys, it's pretty sweet.

I also used their Amazon Fresh service extensively after I broke my shoulder last spring. It was awesome and I'd still use it if not for the slightly higher prices and the fact that keeping my toddler from eating the dry ice is a challenge. In fact, I'm thinking of going back, price difference be damned.

I don't care if they send it by drone, truck, or magical fairy princess. I can order groceries online and get it hours later. Hours! The future is here.