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Amazon delivery drones: Amazon tests drone delivery, Octocopter, NSA controversy

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Amazon’s delivery via drones called Octocopters, which was the subject of Sunday night’s “60 Minutes,” opened the box of Pandora not only when it comes to drones but also on the quality of journalism. Only a few hours before Cyber Monday, “60 Minutes” interviews Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos about Amazon’s plan to deliver its packages via drones, reported CBS on Dec. 2, 2013.

Was the timing on the topic of how fast Amazon delivers its packages or how much faster Amazon could deliver its packages with drones like Octocopters really a coincidence?

Charlie Rose, who conducted the “60 Minutes” interview with Jeff Bezos on Amazon’s tests to deliver packages via drones, also has his “Charlie Rose Show” which airs after midnight on public television. Charlie Rose, who was born on Jan. 5, 1942, is known by many as a long-time American television talk show host and journalist. Unfortunately, Charlie appears to have changed when it comes to journalism. What used to be investigative journalistic interviews with Charlie Rose have turned into major promotions for books, movies, art shows, and now -- drones.

During Sunday night’s “60 Minutes” interview with Jeff Bezos about Amazon using drones for its deliveries, Amazon revealed its secret R&D project, Octocopters.

“Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos had a big surprise for correspondent Charlie Rose this week. 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. … Then Bezos played a Prime Air demo video for the 60 Minutes team that showed how his octocopters will pick up packages in small yellow buckets at Amazon’s fulfillment centers and whiz through the air to deliver items to individual customers 30 minutes after they hit the ‘buy’ button online at Amazon.com.”

To see Amazon’s drone delivery via Octocopter in action, Amazon has released a drone delivery video that shows a parcel being placed in a sealed, plastic container and secured onto a small drone. The drone then takes off from the Amazon warehouse, eventually landing on a doorstep. The package is left for the customer and the drone takes off, returning to the warehouse. According to Jeff Bezos, the Octocopters will be able to handle packages that weigh up to five pounds, which covers 86 percent of Amazon's deliveries, and will be able to cover a 10-mile (16 kilometer) radius from an Amazon distribution center.

Getting Amazon packages delivered in 30 minutes via drones to one's doorstep certainly sounds intriguing for many book lovers. But for many others the idea of a drone at one’s doorstep is raising the question whether this is just another way for the NSA to get even more information on America’s citizens -- up close and personal.

Besides the NSA having a hand in Amazon’s drone delivery, other issues raised by readers are the safety of citizens, of kids throwing rocks at those drones, and the overall air safety which brings up the topic of the FAA.

For now, Jeff Bezos says that Amazon’s drone delivery system is still facing some challenges such as safety testing and FAA approval but that he “estimates that delivery-by-drone, called Amazon ‘Prime Air,’ will be available to customers in as soon as 4-5 years.”

So “60 Minutes” reports about something that is going to be a part of people’s lives in four to five years? One has to wonder what Sunday's presentation about Amazon’s drone delivery system was really about – Octocopters or Cyber Monday?

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