Jeff Bezos: Amazon designing eighth generation of delivery drone

In a letter to shareholders, Amazon's CEO reveals the tech company's terrifying future

Topics: Drone, innovation, amazon, tech, Gadget, Jeff Bezos, ,

Jeff Bezos: Amazon designing eighth generation of delivery droneJeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon (Credit: AP/Reed Saxon)

In early December Jeff Bezos told “60 Minutes” one of Amazon’s long term goals: delivery drones. Prime Air, as it’s known, would deliver packages under 5 pounds via drone to customers within 30 minutes of clicking “purchase.” At that time, Bezos laid out a five year time-line, and it seems he wasn’t kidding.

In a letter to shareholders published by the SEC, Bezos said that Prime Air was “already flight testing our fifth and sixth generation aerial vehicles, and we are in the design phase on generations seven and eight.” The letter, which can be viewed here, does not highlight how much work has been done to the drones, or when they’ll make their eventual debut.

The drones face many hurdles: battery power, safety, GPS, landing abilities, security, legality and FAA approval to name a few. Yet the idea itself – dripping with consumer instant gratification and whiffs of surveillance — is terrifying enough.

Another interesting granule from the letter also includes flight, of a different sort. In the dispatch Bezos claims responsibility for the FAA allowing electronics to remain powered on during take-off. He writes:

“Bringing joy to air travelers, the FAA approved the use of electronic devices during takeoff and landing. Our public policy team, with the help of many allies, worked patiently for four years on this, at one point loading a test plane with 150 active Kindles. Yes, it all worked fine!”

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The “tour,” as Bezos calls the multi-page letter, is a fascinating look at Amazon from Amazon’s eyes. It highlights new features including the recently released Fire TV, and gives a glimpse of currently limited programs like Fresh Grocery and Sunday delivery. For those who know the dark underbelly of the company’s labor practices or environmental record, the letter reads as rather tone-deaf.

h/t The Verge

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email sgray@salon.com.

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