On Sunday night’s 60 Minutes, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told Charlie Rose that his company is working on “octocopters,” which, he said, “are effectively drones but there’s no reason that they can’t be used as delivery vehicles.” The vehicles the company is working on would have a flight path of about 10 miles from a distribution center and be able to deliver a 5 pound or lighter package within 30 minutes, according to Bezos. Unlike drones currently used by the military, there would be no human pilots sitting in operation centers. “These are autonomous,” Bezos told Rose, “so you give ’em instructions of which GPS coordinates to go to, and they take off and they fly to those GPS coordinates.”
As I watched the broadcast, my thoughts were that this is no pipe dream. Most of the underlying technologies required for such vehicles are already in place so it’s a matter of building them and creating the software that can make them fly without falling out of the sky, crashing into each other or landing in the wrong place. But that, too, is doable. Bezos told Rose that it will be at least 2015 before the FAA can issue a ruling to allow for such flights and that he hopes to see the idea take air within four or five years.
Jono Millin, co-founder of DroneDeploy told CNET News that “as an industry we know it’s totally possible.” DroneDeploy makes software “to safely operate and manage multiple drones,” according to its website.