3D Robotics

Amazon Prime Air is hiring!

3689595140?profile=originalForbes reports on the flood of new job listings for Amazon's Prime Air team, which is a real thing:

There are interesting details to glean from the engineering postings, such as the fact that some of  the drone development engineers will be based in San Francisco, or that Seattle-based Amazon right now is more concerned about building out its expertise in software, rather than hardware.

For the fullest glimpses of what project leaders Gur Kimchi and Daniel Buchmueller have in mind, though, turn to the non-technical listings. What caught my eye are notices for  full-time communications manager and a full-time patent lawyer to help get this project off the ground. The jaunty tone of those listings underscore Bezos’s willingness to charge ahead, no matter what everyone else is saying.

Let’s start by dissecting the communications manager listing. The sunny news first:  Amazon defines this as a “high-visibility position where you’ll work directly with Amazon senior executives. . . . You move very fast and think big. ” After all, Amazon wants a media chief who can “ drive massive awareness for Amazon Prime Air.”

Now for the tricky stuff. Amazon also wants candidates who are “comfortable dealing with ambiguity and able to form a cohesive and effective outcome from potentially incongruous facts.” Take a closer look at those last three words. You don’t see those in many job notices, do you? Amazon isn’t tipping its hand any further at this point, but it’s safe to assume that “incongruous facts” might include drones that crash, drop the shipment prematurely or otherwise malfunction.

Right now, no one knows for sure how well or poorly drones will perform. It’s natural for reporters to speculate on possible problems.  But the next section of Amazon’s job description makes clear that when the facts aren’t in yet, it wants a media chief who can focus attention on what can go right, rather than what can go wrong.

With so much at stake, Amazon wants more than an old-fashioned “no comment.” Amazon is looking for a PR alchemist — someone who can magically turn turmoil into good news. And judging by the applicant tally on this LinkedIn version of Amazon’s ad, lots of people are jumping at the opportunity. As of May 18, some 23 people had applied for the post. (I’ll update the total in a week or so.)

Meanwhile, Amazon’s hunt for a drone-patent lawyer is instructive, too. Bear in mind that Amazon already is famous for its gung-h0 approach to patenting the intellectual property (IP) associated with more than 1,000 of its online retailing ideas. Now it looks as if Amazon wants to build up either an unshakeable edge over other retailers and shipping companies — or a set of proprietary technologies that it can profitably license to anyone else wanting to use drones.

As Amazon declares in its patent-lawyer job notice: “Responsibilities include direct client counseling, third party IP investigations and actively working with outside counsel to manage filing, prosecuting and maintaining our growing US and foreign patent portfolio.”

Finally, if you’re eager to start your career in drones, Amazon is hiring at least one research scientist intern. But that’s going to be a hotly contested spot: by LinkedIn’s tally, at least 48 people already are vying for that job.

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  • I know there are lots of technology naysayers on here talking about this (which I agree with) but the job postings are clearly not for a team that can make this happen tomorrow. They are obviously exploring possibilities and scooping up intellectual property. Smart move for Amazon, maybe not best thing for small commercial UAS applications in the future. 

  • I fear a swathe of blatently obvious drone-related patents incoming. :-(

  • Obviously the drone doesn't land in your garden!!! You just lower a rope down with the package attached. Anyone who tugs too hard on the rope makes the rope split in too and the drone gets away. I though this was the obvious way to do it!

  • First thing Amazon needs to do, is to design/build light weigh high capacity batteries, just like Tesla is doing for their motors. Not only this will bring them closer to reality but they can have a huge market share for providing high capacity batteries.

  • Just as the sea of chimneys and analogue tv antennas which once dominated our urban landscapes have largely become redundant, so too will the mailboxes which line our nature strips and doorsteps follow them into obsolescence one day.
    Just as satellite dishes and solar voltaic arrays have fast become common features atop our houses, so might we see landing landing pads spread across our roofs one day. Roof docking would certainly be the best approach for a whole range of reasons including standardisation of delivery, safety, accessibility, ease of autonomous docking, security, not to mention the availability of usable space and overcoming issues like dual/multiple occupancy, etc.
  • ...or its for within the warehouse.

  • I believe that you will have to preregister and purchase or rent a prime delivery receptacle unit before receiving any drone mail.  The receptacle unit will be sized to match the maximum payload of the drone and incorporate some kind(s) of homing assistance, like a radio or IR beacon or special colors, etc.  It could also incorporate some anti-theft measures.

    Alternatively it could coordinate with your car and deposit the box o'stuff in through the sunroof.

  • Every house will have an automated drone landing pad on the roof where the package will be dropped in to a receptacle and the drone will recharge before heading home or to the next delivery point.

  • Developer

    The technical and social hurdles for something like this are just mind staggering.

    I can't even imagine how one would proceed to implement ways to robustly deliver packages to your door step and fly safely over densely populated areas.

    Just something as simple as a dog or child running out to "greet" the spinning propellers is a show stopper, so they would have to air drop the package. But then you get the problem of how to ensure you don't drop it on said dog or child..

  • What if I ordered parts for a multi build to be delivered by a multi? Whoa dude...

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