Amazon’s Package Delivery by Drone predicted 92 years ago

Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos has recently announced a plan, and the technical ability, to deliver Amazon packages within 30 minutes of ordering by drone octocopter.  You can view the drones here on Amazon’s official Youtube channel.

This reminded me of the fantastic book “The Wonderful Future That Never Was” – which you can buy, as it happens, on Amazon – and in fact it turns out that the magazine Popular Mechanics predicted something very similar way back in 1921:

The full text of the prediction was:

“The nonstop delivery of airplane mail via parachute is being rapidly developed in the United States, France, and England. Valuable matter—the only kind carried by airplanes—must be carefully guarded, which means, among other things, that it must be landed within a few feet of the person authorized to receive it. At present the accuracy with which the bags are landed depends entirely upon the skill and aim of the airman. However, some astonishingly close “hits” are being made with, and still greater accuracy is expected from, a two-speed parachute which is being developed in France. In the meantime it is quite safe to predict that parachute delivery will sometime become the rule.”

Perhaps when this prediction was made, “sometime” wasn’t expected to be 92 years later – and it took a different technology than a parachute to make mail delivery by air a reality… but in retrospect it’s very interesting that this approach which will no doubt be lauded as visionary is an almost century-old idea that only now is becoming technically feasible.

Of course, even Bezos says it’s a few years away – and then there’s the FAA to negotiate with… perhaps 92 years is not long enough after all…


British book retailer Waterstones has responded by announcing their plans to deliver orders by owl: