The online retail giant has revealed plans to use flying robots in its order fulfillment services in the next few years.
At the end of his interview with correspondent Charlie Rose on 60 Minutes this week, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos revealed his biggest investment yet in the ongoing quest for customer satisfaction: “Octocopter” drones that fly products directly from an Amazon warehouse to your doorstep in 30 minutes.
When Rose first saw the small drones sitting on a tabletop, he was genuinely shocked, having had only vague hints that Amazon would reveal a new project during the inteview. Bezos teased Rose during a tape change, saying “If you can guess what it is, then… I will give you half my fortune and send you to Vegas with it.”
“I had no idea what its purpose was at first glance,” Rose told 60 Minutes Overtime. Mihailovich thought they resembled giant, flying tarantulas: “They actually look like something out of a Philip K. Dick novel.” The service, called Amazon Prime Air, is slated for 4 or 5 years from now, pending FAA approval.
This video provides some idea of the how the flow from warehouse to customer will work. The drones will pick up packages in small yellow buckets.
Amazon’s drone project aligns with a trend we identified in our latest Future of Retail Report called On-Demand Delivery. Retailers are developing rapid fulfillment services that allow customers to have any product in a store’s inventory delivered in as little as one hour. These hybrid retail services combine the convenience of online and mobile shopping with the immediate gratification of brick-and-mortar stores, enabling shoppers to buy on their own terms. The use of drones instead of delivery people represents a different direction than further automates and streamlines the process.
Check out the video below:
Sources and images: CBS News