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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  • Nobody wants to hire mechanical engineers in this field.

  • And people complain about problems with Hobby King's international shipping.  At least when it goes wrong, it results in you not receiving the package.  When the Prime Air drone goes wrong, your package will be arriving at 40mph through your bedroom window with 8 high speed spinning knives and a LiPo bomb :)

  • For those who want to revisit the many, many comments after Amazon's announcement in 2013, take a look at several links on this page, specifically this and this. More commentary is sure to come in 2014 and on, from Amazon's competitors and others in business.

  • Thanks for the posting Chris! I totally just applied for an engineering position there from clicking on the link on your post!  

  • Moderator

    I am just about to Kickstart my Prime Air catching towel project, as we all know you should never leave home without a towel, especially if you might be able to catch some tech. The autonomous van that pulls up, calls you and gives you a pin to open the door and collect your parcel I can see, flying in, not so much.

  • Honestly i don't see this happen soon, maybe ten years from now, but right now there are lots of variables for it to fail.

    I agree with Jesse, too much liability, thefts etc...

    -What if i'm playing with my quadcopter at the backyard, how does amazon drone avoids mine?

    -How does it (EXACTLY) knows where to safe land, and avoid trees, power lines etc?

    -What if i just steal it once it lands, or shoot it in the air, even crashed there's lots of parts for me to recover.

    -Flight times at the moment are very short, specially with payload, is it worth for deliveries of max 3~5 km?

    Don't take me wrong but currently the use of this technology for delivery of goods it's just absurd.


  • The software will need to be able to communicate with multiple drones at ones, which will autonomously guide themselves to the targets (delivery addresses). At that point, I'd imagine, they'll have to "hold", awaiting for a human pilot to manually control the landing and delivery. There would be way too much liability with fully autonomous landings and deliveries. Besides the obvious personal injury, a drone landing with a package is going to attract attention, and possible thefts, so some coordination will need to be done here with the recipient. After delivery, the drones would autonomously return to base.

  • It's like 1999 with far more talent than demand.  53 applicants for the engineering job 27 applicants for the PR job.

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