Amazon reveals Prime Air drone capable of 30 minute deliveries


December 2, 2013

According to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the drones will deliver packages to customers within 30 minutes of ordering

According to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the drones will deliver packages to customers within 30 minutes of ordering

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As early as 2015, your Amazon purchases could be dropped at your door within 30 minutes courtesy of unmanned aerial drones. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos revealed plans for the delivery service Prime Air (an extension of Amazon Prime which guarantees two-day shipping) in a 60 Minutes interview on Sunday night.

The service would ship orders under five pounds (2.3 kg) after they are packed into small plastic containers and then scooped up by Amazon's custom-built "octocopter." The drone then delivers the package to customers within a 10 mile (16 km) radius of Amazon's fulfillment centers.

Clearly the company will need to jump through various hoops to get the service off the ground, with public safety being a primary concern. "Safety will be our top priority, and our vehicles will be built with multiple redundancies designed to commercial aviation standards," the company says.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently working on rules and regulations for unmanned aerial vehicles, a process which Amazon hopes will be completed sooner rather than later. "We hope the FAA's rules will be in place as early as sometime in 2015. We will be ready at that time."

We have seen a rise in proposals for the use of drones to deliver commercial products. One Australian startup plans to use drones to deliver school textbooks to customers in March 2014, while The Burrito Bomber hopes to be dropping Mexican cuisine on people as soon as 2015. With Amazon's product range, however, Prime Air would be the first to do so on such a large and diverse scale.

It may sound like science fiction, but given that Bezos claims that 300 items per second will be ordered from Amazon on Cyber Monday, it is possible that flocks of Prime Air drones will be zipping around above us in the very near future.

See the drone during a test flight in the video below.

Source: Amazon

About the Author
Nick Lavars Nick was born outside of Melbourne, Australia, with a general curiosity that has drawn him to some distant (and very cold) places. Somewhere between enduring a winter in the Canadian Rockies and trekking through Chilean Patagonia, he graduated from university and pursued a career in journalism. Having worked for publications such as The Santiago Times and The Conversation, he now writes for Gizmag from Melbourne, excited by tech and all forms of innovation, the city's bizarre weather and curried egg sandwiches. All articles by Nick Lavars

So glad I didn't waste my money on any Royal Mail shares...

Chas Newport

If one comes over my field I'll shoot it out of the sky a grab the goodies (as well as the drone) !!

Facebook User

Nice concept, but no, this just won't happen - too many insurance risks. And if you live in a block of flats, where's it going to drop your parcel?

Sadly this is just a bit of free advertising for Amazon.


I like the idea of this delivery drone and I love to order now and receive after 30 minutes the goods. I hope that Amazon will finish this project for fast delivery.

Calin Dragos George

Well, I doubt it will work exactly as shown in the video. It will require a bit more setup than that.

How do you demarcate the landing zone?

How do you demarcate the flight path to the landing zone? Bet it works great on a clutter-free rural estate, as in the video--but what about in the city?

What about weather? N-copters are tough to fly in windy conditions. Will this ever work in North Dakota?

Still, well begun is half done. Good show, Mr. Bezos! I'll bet the demonstration didn't cost all that much, either.


I hope they can pull this off! Interesting challenges here:

a) Can this drone see overhead power or phone lines, tree branches?

b) What's to keep some kid or dog from running up and getting cut by the blades?

c) Urban areas or apartments - where to drop the package? Would this be for rural or suburban only?

d) Dependant on weather or winds?


Delivery "within a 10 mile radius of Amazon's fulfillment centers"? I guess that's Phase 1. If they can do that, then they can also deliver within a 10 mile radius of Amazon's big TRUCK, driving through cities that don't have "fulfillment centers".


I believe Bezos, The man thinks long term & BIG. His net worth is 25 don't get that rich by thinking small.

Drones are the future, in a few years from now they will be common place. Projections are saying that by 2017 there will be 7500 drones over the US, a number which will grow extremely quickly once they get it working smoothly, and all the regulations ironed out.

Derek Howe

It's a publicity gimmick that will never happen.


The drones need to be helicopters, not quad/hex/whatever copters, and the entire thing (blades and all) need to be soft (inflatable probably) and powered by tip-mounted shrouded ducted fans - then this might work.

Or in laymanspeak - these need to be able to crash into anything (eg: a humans face, a car windsheid, a horse), and never hurt anyone or anything, ever.


It is possible to use solar powered airships (solar panels in airship balloon) for transport the packages. Less energy consumption, less pollution.

Szabó Róbert

This is a nice bit of nonsense conjured up to distract from recent media reports that Amazon is putting high street stores out of business, pays its workers next to nothing and contributes less than its fair share of taxes.

Roy Murray

If this is an example of Mr Bezos's thinking, he must have got really lucky to have become a billionaire; or the reality is that he has found a devious way of getting free publicity and is thus a cheapskate.

What this stunt does expose is the appalling lack of rational thinking on the part of the mainstream media, most of whom have been wetting their knickers in excitement in the belief that this is meant to be taken seriously.

Mel Tisdale

Repeat after It-is-a-publicity-gimmick. I can't even begin to give you examples how very very very far-fetched this is.


This could work ! And if it ever broke down they have the trebuchet catapult as a back up. I can't believe how many people that I have talked to think this is real. However if it does happen, I can see sales of slingshots and marbles going crazy

Jay Finke

No way will this happen.

When you consider the amount of maintenance that a Police helicopter receives, regardless of cost, and the fact that one just dropped dead in the sky and fell into a packed Glasgow pub, killing 9 people- the idea that an unmanned drone would be allowed to fly within urban and suburban areas is pie in the sky.

And most people would prefer to be hit by a flying pie than have a multi-bladed lunchbox carrying drone crash through their window, or drop out of a tree.


um, why not just employ delivery drivers. these drones cant have a range of more than 10-15 miles. a driver could cover that easily. plus he could take more than 1 package at a time. plus it puts people to work.

Artisteroi Rlsh Gadgeteer

As a General Aviation pilot, the very last thing needed is to fill the air with small flying hazards. I think Jeff Bozo, (did I spell that correctly?) needs to stick with his knitting and stay out of the air with these flying disasters in waiting.


This is great! Order a pair of socks... get your net ready... grab yourself a free drone!


This was a brilliant advertising ploy that duped me and millions of others including the mainstream media! They got free advertising with their logo on almost every video shot and didn't cost them a cent! Yay Amazon! You guys are the best! Maybe some day this will be possible but right now. Just don't let your publicity folks get away from you! They just saved you millions!


Looks great in a wide suburban area. Just how do you deliver in a heavily urban area within 10 miles of a distribution center (in all types of wind and weather!). They would also make great targets of opportunity for kids with snowballs, etc. during the holiday season!


Just a publicity stunt.

It would never make it past the FAA and the logistical problems of apartments and condos, which would be the most-common type of residence within the delivery radius of the central warehouse.

Christopher Erickson

Order package from Amazon to neighbor's house, wait for delivery, intercept drone, retask drone, attach WMD to drone, send to nearest point of high crowd density. Wow, Amazon has just invented instant terrorism. Security nightmare.


This is defiantly possible but there will be a lot of issues to work through.


Most of the hazards have been mentioned already but what about that 10 mile radius? That's a 20 mile round trip and even at 20 mph would require a battery that lasted a minimum of one hour. What about the recharge time for the next delivery??? Nothing in a quadcopter, that I know of, comes even close to this speed, range, or needed battery capacity.


I agree with Rob Murray. No Corporation contributes it's fair share and they all regard any taxation to be an unfair burden. Beyond that, 60 Minutes is clearly losing it's edge. First there was Lara Logan and now Charlie Rose getting suckered. On the other QuadChoppers & other little UAVs finally give owners of air rifles something to look forward to.


Never say never folks. This is the kind of thing you'd see in a movie like Minority Report. Science Fiction often has a way of popping up in our lives as reality sooner or later.

All of the drone's AI doesn't need to be inside it - near-real-time controls can come from cloud-based drone controllers over cell data connection. Exactly the same way that Microsoft is now doing it's bot control for the Xbox One games. No reason to put that on the local machine when you can have 10,000,000 monstrous computing machines do it remotely. So you have a drone with Kinect-like visual capabilities, able to see 3d objects all around it and discern skeletal constructs, sending some of that info back to the master control program. Recipients of packages would put a marker on the spot they want to receive their package. RFID or some other beacon.

Oh it could work, and it will.


All that said - I'm also on the side of Roy Murray and StWils - all companies need to pay it forward and back.

They didn't get all this technology for free. Most of it was developed by government funded research, whether military or university. The iPhone runs on BSDUnix, aka Berkeley. Databases were developed to catalog rocket parts for NASA. VLSI chips to miniaturize missile guidance systems. The internet is military, cell phones probably partially military (a la Hedy Lamarr).

Very little innovation isn't sitting on the shoulders of enormous "only government could have funded this project first" type of research. You think Space-X innovated rocketry? How much German, Russian, and US money was pissed away just to get the first successful satellite launch.


Range extension - operate half the rotors on ICEs, the other half on electrics. Fine control emanating from the electrics. Range and lifting capacity pulled from the ICEs, with their energy dense fuel supply.

Privacy - there is none. This has zero impact.

Carnage - its good already. Just a matter of time before a kid gets hit by a rotor or someone receives their pressure cooker fully-loaded and beeping fast.


The flying copter is a good idea, maybe even better is a robot car that drives on the streets and perhaps delivers a number of packages to several customers in one trip. It could phone you when it's a few minutes away and you could meet it at the curb and sign for your parcel. Another thing, you wouldn't have the plastic tote to return to Amazon or to throw away. In fact, I bet that's what eventually happens to DHL and UPS and even USPS and other delivery companies. And truck drivers for that matter.


I'm as much a naysayer as anyone. I'm not saying that the room is full of rookie pessamist but the more I hear of how it can't be done the more I'm convinced that it can be. Your arguments against are so weak they are near futile. Battery range? So what. If you've been keeping informed of that topic you can see the drastic improvements we are making in that area. Cost of drones? So what? A tricopter reviewed on Gizmag last week for $500. Weigh that against what Amazon has to pay another company in gas, employee pay, health care, profit, ins.....Liability issues? What liability issues? Your a lawyer now? I at present can see that this has potential although limited. Of course the potential will increase. I do have 1 dubious concern. I do doubt that Amazon is so generous as to leave me a free box after each delivery. Oh, I have to pay for it? Ship it back? No. Boxes will have to stay on 'copter, open at bottom, drop product, fly away...

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