Amazon’s Drones: Who’s Laughing Now?

In December 2013, Jeff Bezos prompted a few smiles from the journalists interviewing him on CBS’s 60 minutes when he announced that he was working on a project to use drones to send Amazon customers their purchases, adding that he expected the service to be available within four or five years. Few people believed him, and many dismissed his comments as a publicity stunt.

Yesterday, just three years after that fateful interview, Jeff Bezos announced that his company was already using drones to send some purchases to Amazon customers in the Cambridge area of the United Kingdom, and posted videos and photographs showing that his supposedly “crazy idea” was now a reality and greatly improved. The design of drones has improved notably, they are fully autonomous, and able to read their environment to avoid accidents and collisions.

Unable to overcome the objections of the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), the company moved its research to the outskirts of London, keeping its projects in the United States going, while setting up new ones in Austria and Israel. Bezos has made it clear that if nations want to attract technology, research, jobs and create new economies, they will have to adapt quickly.

In just three years, Amazon has gone from an announcement dismissed by many people to sending real packages to real and paying customers. The speed at which technology evolves can still surprise us, taking us from incredulity to reality within astonishingly short time frames

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