The long-promised Amazon Prime Air drone delivery service could finally be flying packages within months, according to a company executive.
Speaking the re:Mars conference, Amazon unveiled a new hybrid drone that’s more stable than its previous quadcopters, and includes a helicopter-style vertical takeoff and landing style, while offering sustained forward flight.
According to the company’s consumer CEO Jeff Wilke, the new design is also safer thanks to better recognition of moving objects. It offers thermal cameras, depth cameras and sonar to detect potential hazards. Amazon also provided a test flight video, showcasing the new design and its advanced capabilities, which you can see below.
Wilke was quick to point out the efforts Amazon has made in making the drones safer than before and says the new design is as “robust and stable as commercial aircraft” (via The Verge).
He also says the new design integrates machine learning elements that can help the drone work its way around. “From paragliders, power lines, to the corgi in your backyard, this drone has safety covered,” Wilke added.
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He also added the caveat: “We know customers will only feel comfortable receiving drone deliveries if the system is incredibly safe.”
This time around Amazon is doing its best to win approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States, but building the new drone top “exacting aerospace standards.” Unfortunately, Wilke did not reveal where the Prime Air initiative, which has been tested extensively in recent years and enjoyed a trial in the UK in 2016, would kick off.
He did venture to say: “You’re going to see it delivering packages to customers in a matter of months.”
Amazon’s ambitions in drone design don’t end there though. Wilke also went into detail on Amazon’s plans for all-electric drones, which would have longer ranges of up to 15 miles.