Amazon Unveils Drone Plan

Thousands of tiny drones to ply local airways delivering small packages.

Amazon Prime Air Drone

Amazon Prime Air Drone

Amazon gave a whole new meaning to the concept of “air mail” on Sunday when the Internet giant announced a program to deliver packages to customers via drone, a plan that was first announced on the CBS news magazine show "60 Minutes."

In a video demonstration produced by Amazon, you can see a multicopter drone delivering a small package to a happy suburban customer. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos told 60 Minutes the program is “years away” but also hinted that the restricting factor at this point might be the FAA’s initial approval for commercial drone flight, set for 2015. Bezos said the strategy would employ many thousands of drones scattered across the country to deliver small packages. He added that the biggest challenge at this point is ensuring the drones don’t collide with customers out watering their yards.

Michael Toscano, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, responded to the 60 Minutes report with a press release that can best be described as expressing unbridled glee. “The wider use of UAS,” Toscano said, “will have a huge economic impact in the U.S. for both the public and commercial sectors. Our economic study released earlier this year found that the UAS industry will have an $82 billion economic impact and create more than 100,000 jobs in the first decade after integration."

The takeaway for pilots? Be prepared for skies full of low-flying little yellow multicopters.

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