While at its Re:MARS conference, the company unveiled a hybrid unmanned aerial vehicle capable of vertical takeoff and landing and sustained forward flight. The drone features thermal cameras, depth cameras, and sonar. It also uses machine learning models and onboard computers. With all this technology, it can detect hazards and automatically identify and navigate around obstacles.
“From paragliders, power lines, to the corgi in your backyard, this drone has safety covered,” said Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s consumer worldwide CEO, while explaining how the drone's features help make it a “robust and stable as commercial aircraft”. He also said Amazon plans to launch a full-fledged delivery service using this drone in “the coming months", though he didn't specify where.
Amazon's new delivery drone also has rotors that are fully covered, which is for safety and to double as wings during sustained flight. Other features include six degrees of freedom, which helps it to be more maneuverable, as well as a tilting design that allows it to use the same six propellers to fly forward and for take off and landing. And the fuselage is where packages are stored.
Amazon released a promovideo on Wednesday to show how the new drone performs in air. Amazon hopes that one day its Prime Air service will be able to offer “fully electric drones that can fly up to 15 miles and deliver packages under five pounds to customers in less than 30 minutes". Keep in mind roughly 90 per cent of purchased items on Amazon weight under five pounds, Amazon said.
Although Amazon still needs FAA approval this drone, Wilke told Bloomberg that it is already built with FAA-approved parts. And the BBC spotted an FAA statement on Amazon's drone plans that suggests it is already cleared for use in the US. It's just not yet known where the trial will occur.
FAA statement on Amazon drone plans - looks like its cleared for us in the US. Not sure where in the country the trial will be, though pic.twitter.com/5z4pywoixu— Dave Lee (@DaveLeeBBC) June 5, 2019