Will An Amazon Drone Be Delivering Your Package Anytime Soon? You Decide!

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On Sunday, December 1st, Jeff Bezos the founder and CEO of retail giant Amazon sent shock waves across the nation with his announcement that within a few years, the company would be using aerial drones to make deliveries. Called Amazon Prime Air, it will be available to transport packages of up to five pounds within a ten miles radius of one of the company's numerous fulfillment centers.

Mr. Bezos then went on to demonstrate the service with an impressive video of an octocopter picking up a package from one of the centers and zipping it across town, all within 30 minutes of the customer hitting the 'buy' button! Not surprisingly, the announcement made headlines across the country, leading many skeptics to declare that it was just a marketing ploy to put Amazon in the limelight for Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day of the year!

Even Mr. Bezos agrees that idea is a little audacious. Drone technology has to yet to be perfected and then are some basic safety issues that have to be addressed. Things like how the octocopters would avoid colliding with each other as they zip across the blue skies or even worse, injuring people, as they descend to make deliveries. Given that 86% of Amazon's sales comprise of small goods and the fact that every retailer will want to grab some air action, this could be a major hurdle to overcome.

If the US Federal Aviation Authority does sanction the drones for commercial use and experts think that is a big IF, there are numerous other issues that will still need to be resolved. Will the octocopters be able to handle changes in weather? How do you avoid the drones from being shot down or stolen as they descend to make deliveries? Will the drones have enough battery power to make the 20-mile round trip? Will they need special landing pads? Will . . .? And so on and so forth!

While the CEO is confident that these hurdles can be overcome and that as futuristic as it sounds, Amazon Prime Air will one day become a reality, others are not so sure. But the one thing that everyone does agree upon is that if anybody can pull it off, it will be Jeff Bezos, the visionary that transformed a simple online bookstore into one of the world's biggest retailers.

Though Amazon is the first company to dream of drone deliveries on such a large scale, it is by no means the pioneer. SF Express has been using them to deliver packages in Southern China on a limited basis since the beginning of the year. Australian textbook rental startup Zookai plans to start a similar service in Sydney, in 2014. Whether Amazon will be able to pull it off in the US, depends on what the strict Federal Aviation Authority thinks of the idea. Meanwhile, we will just have to be content with getting our precious packages delivered to us the old-fashioned way.

Resources: wired.com, cnn,com, cbs.com

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Reading Comprehension (3 questions)

  1. What did the Jef Bezos announce on December 1st? What is the service going to be called? What is the maximum weight and distance it will be available for?
  2. How was the announcement received by the world? What are some of the hurdles that need to be overcome before the service can be implemented?

Critical Thinking Challenge

Using facts from the article and your general knowledge, make a case for...

  • raceWednesday, December 4, 2013 at 2:28 pm
    totally awesome!!
    • treeWednesday, December 4, 2013 at 2:27 pm
      • MRICEMISTWednesday, December 4, 2013 at 2:24 pm
        • mary BWednesday, December 4, 2013 at 2:06 pm
          i lookes like a good idea i think i want to order something form there
          • rozeb
            rozebWednesday, December 4, 2013 at 1:40 pm
            I will make an argument for the robot thing and then make a argument against it. Argument for: The dome will make delivering packages easier for Amazon, and they will probably take less time. The Amazon dome will be the delivery guy of the future, and we want our younger generation to get used to the domes deliveeing thing, so they can have more experienced grown-up lives. Against: The domes will take more electrici alt and we are already Pushing fossil fuels to the limit and that is where we get most of our energy from. Also, they will out former delivery men out of their jobs, and wealready have enough jobless people, dn't we?
            • otter
              otterWednesday, December 4, 2013 at 2:44 pm
              I agree with both your arguments. It is a good point that it will make more jobless people, but it isn't that bad for the environment, compared to flying it on a plane and then being but in a truck and delivered to your house. It would be a big step for amazon, though. I am not sure whether to be for or against it.
            • ?Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 1:37 pm
              I mean how far 10 miles Isn't any were near to how far an Amazon facility is to me
              • ?Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 1:34 pm
                Its a good idea but kinda stinks when it comes to how long the robot can go
                • zebralove
                  zebraloveWednesday, December 4, 2013 at 1:27 pm
                  I think that this is a huge step forwards for Amazon, yet all the problems will take a while to just vanish. The drones need waterproofing, wind resistance, strong batteries, maybe even bulletproofing. And they ought to have sensors to help them sense objects like trees, or other drones. They should also be a bit larger so that the drones can carry the packages inside them instead of holding them in a huge claw. That way nobody can snatch them out of the air. But still, thats really cool!
                  • susie
                    susieWednesday, December 4, 2013 at 1:12 pm
                    • coolguy11223344Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 1:09 pm
                      this would be cool but they should make it like the airplane in the military that cant be detected by radar and other stuff and they should make it bigger like 5 more feet to it so it can carry bigger things

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