An Amazon drone has completed the first-ever Prime Air delivery to a customer, according to a tweet from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and a video released on the Amazon.com website. You can watch the video below.
According to Bezos, it took only 13 minutes from the time the unidentified customer placed the order online for the drone to deliver the Prime Air package to its destination.
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) December 14, 2016
Amazon first announced plans to implement a drone delivery system back in December of 2013, a 60 Minutes segment reported at the time. The announcement came as a “big surprise” to 60 Minutes correspondent Charlie Rose.
“Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos had a big surprise for correspondent Charlie Rose this week,” CBS News reported. “After their 60 Minutes interview, Bezos walked Rose into a mystery room at the Amazon offices and revealed a secret R&D project: ‘Octocopter’ drones that will fly packages directly to your doorstep in 30 minutes.”
Rose exclaimed “Oh my God!” when he saw the fleet of Amazon drones. It was, according to CBS, a genuine reaction because no one at the network had been advised of what the surprise would be.
“I only knew that there was a surprise coming,” 60 Minutes producer Draggan Mihailovich said. “I had no idea what it was. They kept saying over and over again, ‘Whatever you think it is, it isn’t.'”
It seemed like an “audacious plan,” and Bezos predicted then that it would be 4 to 5 years before Amazon could get the program off the ground, so to speak.
It looks like Amazon might be a little ahead of schedule with Prime Air.
“We’re excited about Prime Air — a delivery system from Amazon designed to safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles, also called drones,” reads an announcement on the Amazon website. “Prime Air has great potential to enhance the services we already provide to millions of customers by providing rapid parcel delivery that will also increase the overall safety and efficiency of the transportation system.”
Prime Air is still in a beta phase, with only two users in the U.K. so far.
Although Amazon announced the first-ever Prime Air delivery today, the delivery actually took place on December 7. The drone delivered an Amazon Fire TV and a bag of popcorn, according to Tech Crunch.
“Amazon tells us that the current batch of customers will be able to order seven days a week, but only during daylight hours and when the weather is okay to fly,” Frederic Lardinois writes for Tech Crunch. “Judging by the video Amazon posted today, the customer will have to roll out a small mat in the backyard that the drone can then see and land on.”
The future arrives? Amazon’s Prime Air completes its first drone delivery https://t.co/YciTsnuvbX
— Enzo Calamo (@EnzoCalamo) December 14, 2016
It’s difficult to predict how long it will be before Amazon can move from small beta test groups to a full launch of Prime Air. As could be expected, the company is having to revise their plans as the program develops to overcome unexpected obstacles.
For instance, Lardinois notes that Amazon is using different drones than it initially planned for.
“It’s a more traditional quadcopter design as opposed to the hybrid plane/quadcopter it showed off last year,” Lardinois writes. “That likely means it doesn’t have the full range Amazon is hoping for in the long run, but it’s also a tried and tested design. Amazon also always said that it was working on various types of drones.”
It still may be some time before everyone can enjoy the convenience of Prime Air deliveries, but knowing that in the not-too-distant future there is a possibility of having a TV and popcorn — or pretty much anything else you may want or need — delivered on the fly is an exciting prospect.
[Featured Image by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images]