Amazon Prime Air Division Gets New Hires Amid FAA Ban
It looks like Amazon still intends to make Amazon Prime Air happen with a number of recent hires. The service will probably be in a great position to get started – if it can ever get off the ground, that is.
Late last year, Amazon showed the staff of 60 Minutes this newest initiative, which would use flying robot drones to deliver customers’ packages. Since that time, the Federal Aviation administration, or FAA, banned the use of any non-recreational (or non-military) drones in the United States, keeping Amazon’s new service out of the air. Last month the company appealed the FAA’s decision, seeking an exemption for Amazon Prime Air by citing the number of job opportunities the program would create. It was a bit ironic, considering the whole idea of replacing human delivery workers with flying robots, but what are you gonna do?
A post on TechCrunch reports that Amazon has hired some new personnel over the last few months to staff the Amazon Prime Air division. The division’s Vice President of Science is Paul Viola, a former Microsoft employee who “used machine learning to make dramatic improvements to Bing’s accuracy and precision,” certainly a valuable pedigree for a program that wants to teach robots how to deliver stuff to people.
Additionally, Amazon also hired Avi Bar-Zeev , the creator of the company that later became Google Earth, as the division’s senior manager. Meanwhile, former NASA astronaut Neil Woodward is the division’s Technical Program Manager, “responsible for Flight Test, Safety, Risk Management and Certification efforts.”
Then of course there’s the hiring of over 20 interns who “hail from MIT with backgrounds in engineering or robotics.”
In short, Amazon’s not resting on its laurels when it comes to Amazon Prime Air. Despite the fact that the service it proposes is, in fact, not legal, the company isn’t interested in biding its time for the government to catch up to its vision of smart robots crisscrossing the skies to bring you your Scrubs DVDs faster than a mere human.
Time will tell if the company’s investment in Prime Air will pay off.
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