Bill Gates thinks Jeff Bezos's Amazon flying delivery drone plan is "optimistic"

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos revealed a future plan by the company to offer delivery of packages via flying drones on Sunday during a segment on CBS News' 60 Minutes. Such a system is years away from actually happening and many people speculated that the introduction of "Amazon Prime Air" was just a publicity stunt.

That's an opinion that Microsoft chairman Bill Gates does not share. In a CNN interview on Monday, Gates said that while Bezos' vision is perhaps on the "over-optimistic end" of things, he praised Amazon's leader for coming up with the idea. He stated, "It's great that people have dreams like that. If we can make the cost of delivery easier, it's not just books. It's getting health supplies out to people in tough places."

He added that technology pioneers like Bezos "dream big dreams and he's allowed to have a vision there. It would be great if we can come anywhere close to that for a lot of products".  Indeed, Gates believes that automated drones as a whole will have a bigger and more positive impact on the world than many people realize.

Most of the CNN interview discussed Gates' efforts with his foundation to help with health issues, specifically with fighting the AIDS virus. Gates believes that while progress has been made, he thinks that the world will have to deal with some level of the AIDS infection for generations to come.

Source: CNN

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It wasn't a plan by amazon, it was a marketing ploy, and it worked. Look how long it's been in the news. And now people are using it as ploy to get marketing for themselves!

I don't agree 100% with what he says, but in this case what about his comments is inaccurate? He sounds cautiously optimistic about it and even admits it would help with his pet healthcare projects, but there are lots of problems to be sorted out before this takes off. I actually thought the exact same thing as him even before I read his comments. At this time it is still a dream (and not one Bezos/Amazon deserves credit for coming up with either), but there is potential if the hurdles can be overcome, which seems to be precisely what Bill is saying. Seems to me you're looking at the comments here in light of your response to his previous comments regarding Project Loon, which you clearly disagreed with.

I think given his accomplishments, Bill is an incredibly humble person. Regardless, and despite the "over-optimistic" tag here, it sounds like he's generally supportive of the goal.

I wonder if he would have told himself something similar when he was over optimistic about tablets years and years ago. Look how long it took for tablets to take off and it wasn't even them who popularized them. even now with metro he is over optimistic when it hasn't taken off if microsoft didn't have all the money they have they would have gone broke after the failure of windows phone 7, 7.5, etc... and the failure of surface rt.

Optimistic idea, but still genius. There's no way , amazon would give up with such idea; and Bill Gates might just be jealous of not having the idea first.

Spicoli said,
It's not a new idea.

All right, but we need a major actor to popularize , and develop the idea. It's just like the tablets, you could argue that apple didn't invent the tablets; but still people think that it's apple that is the true innovator regarding tablets.

I imagine delivery drones downed by terrorists. "Allahu Akbar! " - while carrying 40 kilos of TNT .

"Houston , we have a problem. ".

Jokes aside , we might see this ideea take life in next sci-fi movies.

While I agree, it is "optimistic" at best in its current state, will fail before it ever gets off the ground (no pun intended)

It's unlikely people will have enough time to see the drone, run into their house, grab their gun (perhaps load it) and then make it back outside to shoot the drone before it's gone. And I don't see people driving down the street with a high powered rifle pointed out the window so they can snag some free drone gear.

A much bigger concern is how widely inefficient these drones are. From what I read, the batteries don't last long. Accuracy and weather conditions are also important factors.

There are other pretty basic issues too, such as how's it going to knock on your door? Navigate your property to FIND your front door, gain access to your apartment building, navigate the stairs or elevator, not get jumped on by an excitable mutt...

I can only see this is feasible if it delivers to a local collection point, and you go fetch it from there, which kinda defeats the point.

The more basic issue is it's extremely inefficient and not scalable. You'd need to double your floor space just to have enough room to store all these things when a handful of delivery trucks do the same job.

I really like and respect him but I feel he shouldn't really comment on innovations happening in technology anymore especially when he's not doing anything related to it. This is the second time he has done it. First time was when Google launched that hot air balloon for internet access.

That was far from the first time, and this will be far from the last.

Like or not, Bill Gates has played a massive part in how computers are used today, and he will continue to do so until they stick in a hole in the ground.

Well he commented because he was asked. He didn't bring up the topic himself. I am not sure how it went with hot air balloon though.

StandingInAlley said,
I really like and respect him but I feel he shouldn't really comment on innovations happening in technology anymore especially when he's not doing anything related to it. This is the second time he has done it. First time was when Google launched that hot air balloon for internet access.

Right, so are we to seriously assume you've _never_ commented on this site or elsewhere on any technology (hardware or software) that you've not personally had a hand in developing? If anything he has far more right to comment than you or me.

StandingInAlley said,
I really like and respect him but I feel he shouldn't really comment on innovations happening in technology anymore especially when he's not doing anything related to it. This is the second time he has done it. First time was when Google launched that hot air balloon for internet access.

And he's right about those hot air balloons. Internet access for the masses in places that are lacking in basic infrastructure like water supply and sewage is getting your priorities mixed up.

TMYW said,

And he's right about those hot air balloons. Internet access for the masses in places that are lacking in basic infrastructure like water supply and sewage is getting your priorities mixed up.

Oh yeah, I forgot you can create water and sewer infrastructure for all of Africa for the same price as floating a few balloons. Oh wait, no you cant.

No one got their priorities mixed up here. They want to supply internet access via balloons because it is cheap enough for them to do and will gain them more customers. If they could supply them all with water for the same price then I guess they would, even if it was just for the PR.

M4x1mus said,

Oh yeah, I forgot you can create water and sewer infrastructure for all of Africa for the same price as floating a few balloons. Oh wait, no you cant.

No one got their priorities mixed up here. They want to supply internet access via balloons because it is cheap enough for them to do and will gain them more customers. If they could supply them all with water for the same price then I guess they would, even if it was just for the PR.

My point went right over your like those balloons. It's not about whether it's cheaper to bring Internet access or to bring running water. Societies that can't afford basic infrastructure simply don't have the means to own computers.

Google could do more good delivering these locations jugs of fresh water by truck than to continue wasting time and money on this stupid project.

TMYW said,

My point went right over your like those balloons. It's not about whether it's cheaper to bring Internet access or to bring running water. Societies that can't afford basic infrastructure simply don't have the means to own computers.

Google could do more good delivering these locations jugs of fresh water by truck than to continue wasting time and money on this stupid project.

Google is a technology company, not a drink company.

kayzee said,

Google is a technology company, not a drink company.

Google Gulp, anyone, or Google Guice? Huh, huh?

(I'll be here all week folks, and don't forget the tip jar on your way out.)

A floating fat man with a jar full of pennies and cigarette butts? Meh, I'll be there as soon as I'm done with my set, you won't get far.

kayzee said,

Google is a technology company, not a drink company.

Exactly! They have no business in places that don't even have water. The need for technology there is about #100 in the list of things that are most important.

TMYW said,

My point went right over your like those balloons. It's not about whether it's cheaper to bring Internet access or to bring running water. Societies that can't afford basic infrastructure simply don't have the means to own computers.

Google could do more good delivering these locations jugs of fresh water by truck than to continue wasting time and money on this stupid project.

A huge number of people in Africa have internet enabled phones but very little access to high speed internet. They don't need to have PC's to have computers that connect to the internet.

He was not the first to think of delivery with an octocopter.
In the city where I live they are working on delivering food (like taccos, pizzas, etc.) with the drones. Biggest problem for them seems to be that the authorities don't give the approval for them to launch.

drones eh.. i heard elsewhere the delivery drones are going to take photos of your property... wouldn't put it past'em. cell phones are already back doored to the NSA, how bout dem drones?

StandingInAlley said,
Satellite's already do this

True but.... Satellites are by far more expensive to launch, manner and maintain plus they do not have the "flexibility" of a drone: they fly predetermined orbits and change them it is not a trivial matter.

That's was laws and real-time video surveillance from the drone itself will do. Stealing it will be pretty stupid as they'll have real-time GPS tracking and will be able to dispatch police in an instant if a drone is hit.

Sure, there will be exceptions. People still try to rob banks and armored cars. But I don't think any significant number of people would try this.

Umm...he did not come up with the idea. People have been bouncing around that idea for years. The only application that has made sense so far is less expensive remote air drops currently done by manned aircraft. If there's a road available, trucks work much better.

would be cool, but what would stop a random guy shooting it down and taking the package? I rather wait a few days longer but atleast I know Ill get it.

What an idiotic comparison. In the case of UPS/FedEx delivery guy, somebody you know (i.e. your own employee) is held accountable.

Soldiers33 said,
what would stop a random guy shooting it down and taking the package?
We can arm them with guns and some self-aware artificial intelligence system so they can defend themselves. I am just not sure how to name this global digital defense network in the sky, maybe, 'Self-defending Sky Network' or something.

EJocys said,
We can arm them with guns and some self-aware artificial intelligence system so they can defend themselves. I am just not sure how to name this global digital defense network in the sky, maybe, 'Self-defending Sky Network' or something.

Don't see anything wrong with that

Soldiers33 said,
would be cool, but what would stop a random guy shooting it down and taking the package? I rather wait a few days longer but atleast I know Ill get it.

I don't think that would be a big issue once proper laws are in place. These things would be equipped with GPS and camera so it would be no problem tracking down who did it.