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Amazon's Delivery Drones Could Be Sitting Ducks

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)'s Mini Panther drone at the AUS&R (Autonomous, Unmanned Systems & Robotics) 2013 Expo conference and exhibition in Rishon LeZion, Israel. Photographer: Hanan Isachar/Corbis
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)'s Mini Panther drone at the AUS&R (Autonomous, Unmanned Systems & Robotics) 2013 Expo conference and exhibition in Rishon LeZion, Israel. Photographer: Hanan Isachar/Corbis

You probably already saw the "60 Minutes " segment or promotional video for Amazon's new delivery service via unmanned aerial vehicles. Although it won't happen for several years, the e-commerce giant is already testing drones that have eight external propellers and a central unit that houses most of the electronic components. They look a lot like the devices hobbyists have been assembling for years or buying ready-made from toy stores and even Amazon itself.

But when Amazon's Prime Air finally does launch, the drones may look more like the Air Mule, which was on display at the Autonomous Unmanned Systems and Robotics Expo in Tel Aviv last week. The unmanned chopper, developed by Israel-based Tactical Robotics, can take off and land vertically like Amazon's drone, but the propellers are contained within the main body.