On a 60 Minutes segment last night, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos revealed a plan that would put all other rapid shipping options to shame: a fleet of little drones that could carry items from a warehouse conveyor belt to a buyer’s doorstep, all within half an hour. Like Google’s driverless cars or, on a grander scale, Elon Musk’s Hyperloop, the project — dubbed Amazon Prime Air — seeks to revolutionize how things and people move, offering speed, convenience, and the futuristic experience of a flying octocopter postman. “I know this looks like science fiction,” said Bezos, suggesting it could be possible in four to five years. “It’s not.” But in order to turn its ambitious concept into a reality, Amazon has a lot of work to do.
Amazon has said that its unmanned aerial vehicles [UAVs] should be able to carry a 5-pound package up to 10 miles within 30 minutes. To do that, it’s going to need a lot of battery power. Octocopters on the market today are often built to carry cameras heavier than 5 pounds, but they fly only a fraction of the distance; the SteadiDrone EIHG8, for example, is meant to carry between 2 and 13 pounds, but only for a maximum of 15 minutes and less than 1 mile — the heavier the package, the worse the performance.
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