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Delivery Drones Coming Soon? 22:31
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This undated image provided by Amazon.com shows the so-called Prime Air unmanned aircraft project that Amazon is working on in its research and development labs. Amazon says it will take years to advance the technology and for the Federal Aviation Administration to create the necessary rules and regulations, but CEO Jeff Bezos said Sunday Dec. 1, 2013, there's no reason drones can't help get goods to customers in 30 minutes or less. (AP Photo/Amazon)
This undated image provided by Amazon.com shows the so-called Prime Air unmanned aircraft project that Amazon is working on in its research and development labs. Amazon says it will take years to advance the technology and for the Federal Aviation Administration to create the necessary rules and regulations, but CEO Jeff Bezos said Sunday Dec. 1, 2013, there's no reason drones can't help get goods to customers in 30 minutes or less. (AP Photo/Amazon)

The online retail giant, Amazon, got lots of press earlier this month when it announced that in the not-to-distant-future it plans to use unmanned drones to deliver packages.

But the prospect of the squadrons of drones whizzing around over our heads and homes raises some pretty big questions. Like, Really? And, How would that work?

Comedian Steven Colbert summed it up best: "There's the drone picking up the package and flying out of the warehouse, navigating through the parts of America with no trees, phone lines or buildings, then landing on your doorstep while your family cowers inside until after the semi-autonomous, blade-wielding octo-copter leaves."

A blade-wielding octocopter. Coming soon? Or just a dream?

It's sometimes tough to sort out what's a gimmick and what's really the future of robotic vehicles. Are more drones coming? Sure. But what will they look like and what will they do?

Guests

Holly Yanco, professor in the Computer Science Department at UMass Lowell, joining the faculty in July 2001. She is also the director of the New England Robotics Validation and Experimentation (NERVE) Center.

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This segment aired on December 11, 2013.

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