Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was interviewed on the American 60 Minutes news magazine programme yesterday. Among the interesting topics he talked about, Bezos mentioned that Amazon is working on an unmanned drone delivery system, called Amazon Prime Air, which uses Octocopters (see the video below). Another eye opening revelation by Bezos was that Amazon Web Services (AWS) is building a private cloud system for the CIA.
Amazon Prime Air
Amazon is currently testing unmanned drones to delivery packages to customers. The drones, called Octocopters carry up to 2.3Kg in parcels. Bezos mentioned a 30 minute delivery time, so perhaps the Octocopters have an airborne time of just over an hour or so. At this time the US air authorities haven’t approved the plans and it is thought it will take up to five years for the Amazon Prime Air service to start - but it is hoped it can start as early as 2015.
Talking on the CBS 60 Minutes show Bezos said “I know this looks like science fiction, but it's not.” He added that “We can do half-hour delivery... and we can carry objects, we think, up to five pounds (2.3kg), which covers 86% of the items that we deliver.”
Amazon thinks that seeing its drones in the sky will one day “be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today.” The Prime Air FAQ answers questions about public safety and reassures us that it will be a priority. However my immediate concern was over my Amazon order being caught in a net or shot down on its way to my house; which is a topic not addressed in the FAQ.
Amazon’s CIA cloud service
GigaOM wrote about a rumoured Amazon and CIA contract back in March and thought that such a deal “will probably never get confirmed”. However Amazon’s Bezos confirmed it, as well as the Octocopter story, without even being asked about it, also on the 60 Minutes show. Conveniently one of Amazon’s largest data centres is based only about 20 miles down the road from the CIA’s Langley, Virginia HQ.