Amazon Prime Air building drones to cope with different environments, may launch overseas

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Amazon's drone-based Prime Air delivery service will have an array of craft to deal with different climates and environments, though the company is still devising solutions to other problems and could end up launching outside the U.S. first, according to a new interview.




Drones deployed to dry regions like Phoenix will be different from ones used in rainy areas like Orlando, Amazon's VP for global public policy, Paul Misener, explained to Yahoo. Different vehicles will also be used to navigate around skyscrapers versus suburbs, although the company has yet to solve the problem of delivering to people in apartment buildings, who don't have yards to serve as convenient landing pads.

Misener did promise that drones would be as quiet as possible, and that they would be programmed to avoid colliding with trees. The executive dismissed worries about people shooting down deliveries, suggesting that people can shoot at trucks too and that the novelty of Prime Air drones will wear off.

Since the service doesn't yet have a legal framework to operate in, Misener said that Amazon has been proposing an airspace division in which manned aircraft would fly over 500 feet, while drones in fast transit would be restricted to between 200 and 400 feet, with the intervening space serving as a safety buffer. Under 200 feet, drones might be limited to operations like takeoff, landing, or photos and video.

These ideas have been presented to "regulators around the world," according to Misener, including the FAA and NASA in the U.S. The latter two groups haven't gone along with Amazon's ideas however, and Misener suggested that while the company wants the U.S. to be the first country with Prime Air, the service may launch elsewhere if it can't get the regulations it needs.

Another unresolved issue is pricing, as it's not clear if Prime Air delivery will cost extra. Likewise, especially with regulatory confusion, there's no firm timeline for when the service will be ready.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    I can't wait until my package is left on the lawn in the rain!

    Oh wait, I don't use Amazon. 
  • Reply 2 of 29
    This is still a pipe dream. People think autonomous cars are difficult - drones are much more difficult. Sure there's less to hit when you're flying, but it's the landings that will be extremely difficult. So many things to get in the way (like power lines, which are still very common and are very hard to detect).

    Drones simply don't have the cargo capacity necessary to carry a full set of sensors/computers to allow them to fly safely.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 3 of 29
    The whole idea sounds like a money hole. I expect to see pigs flying before drone deliveries.
    williamlondonfotoformat
  • Reply 4 of 29
    Very easy. The drone mothership parks in your neighborhood, and all ten drones deliver packages while the truck driver does other work. The drones return and on to the next. It's clear this is not just a pilot project, there are real advantages to it or tehy wouldn't do it.
    schlackcnocbui
  • Reply 5 of 29
    Smoke and mirrors before earnings  next week - its their MO. Much like gimmicks to increase Prime numbers this weekend  so as to  impress people with a growth and justify a P/E of 818! Eat it up Wall Street! 
    williamlondonJanNL
  • Reply 6 of 29
    Phoenix? LOL! Everyone is armed in Arizona. As soon as these start flying there, they'll be blasted out of the sky.
    fotoformat
  • Reply 7 of 29
    indyfxindyfx Posts: 321member
    Im going to build a fleet of flying drones to automatically deliver packages, what could possibly go wrong? Hubris is so often the downfall of those who achieved success via lucky happenstance.
  • Reply 8 of 29
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,799member
    Very easy. The drone mothership parks in your neighborhood, and all ten drones deliver packages while the truck driver does other work. The drones return and on to the next. It's clear this is not just a pilot project, there are real advantages to it or tehy wouldn't do it.
    Sounds stupid to me. I buy a lot of expensive stuff. I don't want a drone dropping it at my front door, no delivery signature, etc. Those drones probably cost as much as a small delivery vehicle anyway. Personally I'd much rather have a friendly, intelligent, courteous human deliver my purchases. That would also be better PR in my opinion. I thought the trend now days was quality and attention to detail, you know, the Apple way, not just tossing a package on your door step with a robot.
    JanNL
  • Reply 9 of 29
    buckalec said:
    Smoke and mirrors before earnings  next week - its their MO. Much like gimmicks to increase Prime numbers this weekend  so as to  impress people with a growth and justify a P/E of 818! Eat it up Wall Street! 
    I'm with you. I declare shenanigans. The risks involved with sending these out to land or simply hover and drop packages in areas Amazon doesn't control where there are animals, or as some have pointed out already - power lines, children, any number of unexpected moving objects or undetectable stationary objects, the insurance would be so astronomical. I can't imagine this being feasible to any but a very small subset of people and locations, under the strictest set of conditions, and only for those with more money than sense and are so fucking impatient they can't wait a whole day for their crap to arrive. This is consumerism gone totally fucking awry.

    Didn't this story already get debunked a few weeks ago somewhere?
  • Reply 10 of 29
    ivladivlad Posts: 742member
    How stupid are these comments? This echoes the first iPhone comments. Just because you don't have all the details you can't just dismiss this as "stupid" or "never gonna happen." This is very real and will be a standard in 10 years or less. The one thing people don't understand is that this is not for ALL packages, this is for small items and light items. Majority of shopping for clothes will be done online. Imagine if you can take out that 20% or so out of FedEx, UPS, Amazon's delivery headache. It's cheaper to do it with a plastic drone, even if it's for 20% of customers with perfect homes.
  • Reply 11 of 29
    ivladivlad Posts: 742member
    Phoenix? LOL! Everyone is armed in Arizona. As soon as these start flying there, they'll be blasted out of the sky.
    Funny, because you have no right to do that and will probably face jail time for doing so. You don't own airspace above your house.
    schlackcnocbui
  • Reply 12 of 29
    schlackschlack Posts: 708member
    really surprised at all the doubters on this site...saw the same nonsense when autonomous cars started tooling around in 2004 and when the iPhone came out in 2007...very short sited people. drone delivery is inevitable. the timeline might be more or less extended based on tech, regulations, and consumer acceptance, but it is so obvious that this is not smoke and mirrors and that it will happen. what are all u luddites doing on this site?
  • Reply 13 of 29
    schlackschlack Posts: 708member
    volcan said:
    Very easy. The drone mothership parks in your neighborhood, and all ten drones deliver packages while the truck driver does other work. The drones return and on to the next. It's clear this is not just a pilot project, there are real advantages to it or tehy wouldn't do it.
    Sounds stupid to me. I buy a lot of expensive stuff. I don't want a drone dropping it at my front door, no delivery signature, etc. Those drones probably cost as much as a small delivery vehicle anyway. Personally I'd much rather have a friendly, intelligent, courteous human deliver my purchases. That would also be better PR in my opinion. I thought the trend now days was quality and attention to detail, you know, the Apple way, not just tossing a package on your door step with a robot.
    Yes, the same arguments where made when coach drivers gave way to cars, when elevator operators gave way to buttons, when phone operators gave way to switch gear, when stock brokers gave way to online trading, and when bomber planes gave way to drones...get on the right side of history...or history will get on the right side of you.
  • Reply 14 of 29
    schlackschlack Posts: 708member
    indyfx said:
    Im going to build a fleet of flying drones to automatically deliver packages, what could possibly go wrong? Hubris is so often the downfall of those who achieved success via lucky happenstance.
    hmm...good point. let's not ever try to do anything that is hard, that stretches us beyond our current way of doing things...who wants change...who wants to take risks...we don't! Bush for 2016!
  • Reply 15 of 29
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    ivlad said:
    Phoenix? LOL! Everyone is armed in Arizona. As soon as these start flying there, they'll be blasted out of the sky.
    Funny, because you have no right to do that and will probably face jail time for doing so. You don't own airspace above your house.
    yeah and you can't shoot street signs, either.
  • Reply 16 of 29
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    Phoenix? LOL! Everyone is armed in Arizona. As soon as these start flying there, they'll be blasted out of the sky.
    They only time the drone would likely be low enough for you to hit it would be as it descends to it's final destination.

    Your neighbour is armed.  You going to blast his package to bits? Not to mention the $10,000 bill from Amazon if you manage to survive your neigbours response.
  • Reply 17 of 29
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    ivlad said:
    Funny, because you have no right to do that and will probably face jail time for doing so. You don't own airspace above your house.
    yeah and you can't shoot street signs, either.
    Street signs don't have cameras that phone home high res images of the shooter.
  • Reply 18 of 29
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,541member
    Don't care Amazon does package delivery using UPS, Drone or Dog. To me, Amazon has not delivered Native App for their prime instant video for Apple-TV. That was my frustration talking with Amazon. Besides that, if anyone delivers package using better technology like Drone than more power to them long as safe. I am afraid, worried because larger package shipping drone can bring passenger plane down when it's navigation miss it's intended path and ran into passenger plane.
    edited January 2016 williamlondon
  • Reply 19 of 29
    volcan said:
    Very easy. The drone mothership parks in your neighborhood, and all ten drones deliver packages while the truck driver does other work. The drones return and on to the next. It's clear this is not just a pilot project, there are real advantages to it or tehy wouldn't do it.
    Sounds stupid to me. I buy a lot of expensive stuff. I don't want a drone dropping it at my front door, no delivery signature, etc. Those drones probably cost as much as a small delivery vehicle anyway. Personally I'd much rather have a friendly, intelligent, courteous human deliver my purchases. That would also be better PR in my opinion. I thought the trend now days was quality and attention to detail, you know, the Apple way, not just tossing a package on your door step with a robot.
    You can just choose delivery by human. Simple.
  • Reply 20 of 29
    Dear Apple Insider, please ban some of these users from posting. There are some real unproductive, backward thinking, dumb responses above. What Amazon is doing is providing choice. In most cases Amazon Prime 2 day works great. From time to time there may be a need to get something same day or as this model suggests within 30 minutes. That would be great. Yes there are barriers to overcome but this is not far fetched. Drones are very intelligent can capable. Here's to futurism!
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