Amazon has announced its new drones for order deliveries - and they are set to release this year!
Having just been announced at Amazon’s Re:MARS conference in Las Vegas, the new innovation is a hybrid aircraft that’s capable of vertical takeoff and landing, as well as sustained forward flight. The company says it wants to launch a delivery service using the drone in “the coming months," but has not said where this might take place or how many customers it might cover.
But most consumers are still worried about safety. And Amazon knows this. Introducing the drone onstage was consumer worldwide CEO Jeff Wilke, who emphasised the aircraft’s safety features. “We know customers will only feel comfortable receiving drone deliveries if the system is incredibly safe.” From paragliders, power lines, to the corgi in your backyard, this drone has safety covered,” said Wilke.
The new drone uses a combination of thermal cameras, depth cameras, and sonar to detect hazards. With the help of machine learning models, onboard computers can automatically identify obstacles and navigate around them.
The company accompanied the announcement of the new drone with a test flight video, showing how the craft transforms in midair. Amazon claims its goal for the finished Prime Air service is to create “fully electric drones that can fly up to 15 miles (24,14 km) and deliver packages under five pounds to customers in less than 30 minutes.” This may sound like a small payload, but Amazon says 75% to 90% of purchased items are under that weight limit.
While the specs are specified, the release date is still vague. Amazon has said to only expect it 'in the coming months.' But what shouldn't delay the release is FAA approval, Amazon hopes. This is due to the design of the entire drone being built either from FAA-approved parts or designed with approval in mind. “We’re not telling the FAA, hey, here is something new that you’ve never seen before,” he said. “We’re saying, this is an aeroplane that’s built to exacting aerospace standards.”
And things are definitely positive on that front. About one month ago, Google’s Wing Aviation received the first FAA approval to start drone deliveries in certain remote parts of America. (pictured above).
Watch this space! Amazon continues its innovation and global expansion, with deliveries to South Africa allowing you to pay customs and shipping costs upfront, avoiding all extra costs completely. Let's hope drone stations make their way to our shores in the coming years too!
Check out the test flight below!