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Summary:

Shocker. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos used the “P” word on national TV: As in private cloud in describing the CIA cloud the company is building.

octocopter

Most of the Twitter response to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ star turn on 60 Minutes focused on Amazon’s plans to offer drone delivery of small packages in the not-too-far-off-but-unspecified future.

Bezos showed off the small helicopter like devices, actually octocopters, to the always credulous Charlie Rose and no doubt they are cool — although you have to wonder what could possibly go wrong. This meaty tidbit reaffirms what Gigaom’s Signe Brewster reported earlier, that consumer drones are coming and nothing screams “consumer” like Amazon’s retail services.

Still, the biggest surprise for me came when Bezos, unprompted, referred to the planned cloud that Amazon Web Services is building for the CIA as a private cloud. He didn’t even stumble on the word. Funny, since at AWS Re:invent last month, top AWS execs Andy Jassy and Adam Selipsky went to great pains to not characterize that installment as a private cloud. That’s because the religion at AWS is that there is no cloud other than public cloud.

But I’m showing my bias there. Let’s return to the drones — er “octocopters” — that Bezos was so thrilled to talk about. He characterized them as autonomous vehicles (so maybe not drones at all?) that fly to pre-set GPS coordinates. He foresees them being able to deliver small packages — up to 5 lbs — within a 10 mile radius of a distribution center. He gave no timeframe and acknowledged there is work to do.

“The hard part here is putting in all the redundancy, all the reliability, all the systems you need to say, ‘Look, this thing can’t land on somebody’s head while they’re walking around their neighborhood.”

So he added:

“In urban areas, you could actually cover very significant portions of the population. And so, it won’t work for everything; you know, we’re not gonna deliver kayaks or table saws this way. These are electric motors, so this is all electric; it’s very green, it’s better than driving trucks around. This is…this is all an R&D project.”

  1. It sounds cool… but we just saw a bunch of people in Glasgow killed by a police helicopter crashing into a pub. Imagine the headlines and lawsuits if one of these ‘octocopters’ craps out over a school or a park….

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    1. my first thought hearing this: wow what could possibly go wrong? how about a drone malfunctiioning and hitting a moving vehicle or a person. lots of risk imho, which to his credit, bezos addressed (briefly). there are rules now for unmanned aircraft but i’m guessing there will be a lot more going forward. (hopefully)

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      1. with the existing delivery system… don’t you think the same problems apply?

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        1. Exactly. Delivery trucks are technology that is a century old and yet it still manages to kill people occasionally.

          Now take that delivery system and suspend it in the sky….

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    2. Police helicopter weighing in the tons, compared to an octo-copter than can reliably only lift 10 lbs (Amazon most likely is limiting it to 5 for tolerance purposes). If this crashed on a pub’s roof, it’s not going to kill anyone.

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      1. But if it crashed into -you-, it wouldn’t tickle.

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  2. Vinod Shintre Sunday, December 1, 2013

    not a bad idea to pursue, its not that it will crowd the sky in next few days & the malfunctioning one’s start falling on our heads.

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  3. I’ve been at two events recently where they had these private drones flying overhead. Truly creepy. Although, I suppose that with time we’ll just get used to them. Now, we’ll never know whether the drone is spying on us, targeting us with a bomb, or bringing our copy of “Valentine Way.”

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  4. A drone can be an autonomous vehicle. In fact, that’s what is in the definition.

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/drone

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  5. He actually did give a time frame, saying he hoped it’d be out within the next five years, but couched it by saying it was optimistic.

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    1. you’re right i went back to the report and adjusted. thanks

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  6. The drones are comming! There is a number of startups focusing on this technology, think the big guns like Amazon, Google and eBay will start buying up these startups in the near future.

    As for the private cloud, great news. The big public cloud providers like Amazon will soon be the big private cloud providers, and companies will have one vendor that will manage their cloud solutions. It will simplify the procurement process and IT will focus on which services goes into public and which goes into private.

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  7. Reblogged this on Capacitive Flux and commented:
    This is very definitely an area of intense interest for all! Autonomous delivery drones and Amazon moving into private cloud.

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  8. Trinadh Yerra Sunday, December 1, 2013

    Small Payload
    Small range (presumably within a city)
    Security of its own
    Maneuver in low altitude is much difficult than higher altitude
    Air Traffic

    Some challenges there

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  9. Can’t wait for the day one of the packages or drones drops on a person or a pet. The award or settlement is going to be astronomical. Further, there’ll be a little developing industry of intercepting drones and packages before they reach their destinations. The insurance company is going to LOVE this, since the liability will all fall on Amazon. And just picture the day when a drone hits a power line and takes out the electricity for a whole neighborhood? The utility companies are probably gearing up now for the battles.

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  10. Can’t wait for the day one of the packages or drones drops on a person or a pet. The award or settlement is going to be astronomical. Further, there’ll be a little developing industry of intercepting drones and packages before they reach their destinations. The insurance company is going to LOVE this, since the liability will all fall on Amazon. And just picture the day when a drone hits a power line and takes out the electricity for a whole neighborhood? The utility companies are probably gearing up now for the battles.

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