Jeff Bezos unveils Amazon Prime Air delivery drones

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During a 60 Minutes segment featuring Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, the chief executive took the opportunity to unveil a new delivery drone program the company is working on called Amazon Prime Air. It’s basically drones coming from Amazon fulfillment centers around the nation and flying to nearby cities to deliver packages in less than half an hour. Faster than  most people can shut down their computer, get dressed, climb into the car, and drive to a retail store to purchase something.

Bezos said that because most of the company’s packages are under five pounds (about 86% of them), the drones do not have to be very large – about the size of the package to be delivered, actually. The plan is to have the drones capable of delivering packages within ten miles of a fulfillment center and, he laughed, to not have them drop on someone’s head along the way.

Regulations and drone development are key here, of course, but Bezos believes it can be do-able within the next four to five years. A video of the portion of the segment covering the drones can be watched on YouTube here.

Most of the 60 Minutes segment focused on Cyber Monday, the biggest Internet shopping day of the year. That happens to be today, of course. Amazon estimates that they will fulfill about 300 orders per second today. A small fraction of those will be same-day deliveries via the company’s latest offering in select cities.

The Amazon of today, experimenting with drone delivery systems and thousands of orders per minute, is a far cry from the Amazon of 18 years ago when Bezos was hand-delivering package to the Post Office without the aid of a forklift.

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