Prime Air time
Back in December of 2013, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced the company’s intention to develop and employ drones in their regular delivery routine. Not surprisingly, the statement was largely met with skepticism; however, from a pacing perspective, Amazon couldn’t have picked a better time to begin development.
On this year’s Cyber Monday, Amazon publicly announced Prime Air’s impending launch—and it has landed smack dab in the middle of America’s drone frenzy.
Part of the program’s allure is its urgency. “Amazon Prime Air is a future service that will deliver packages up to five pounds in 30 minutes or less using small drones,” reads the official page (so if day-of shipping on all your five-pounds-or-less items wasn’t quick enough, you have something to smile about). “Putting Prime Air into service will take some time, but we will deploy when we have the regulatory support needed to realize our vision.”
They’ve passed the flying corgi test
Due to the recently proposed FAA ruling, Prime Air has some fairly basic hoops to jump (or fly) through, but it appears that they pass the flying corgi test (their drones weigh in at under 55 pounds), and their maximum altitude reportedly won’t surpass 400 feet. With these main criteria taken care of, Amazon drones will still have to demonstrate consistently reliable and safe operation before the FAA will consider deployment.
The drone itself is sleeker and prettier than previous prototypes, and with updated features such as “sense and avoid” technology and a rear-facing propeller, it appears to be a giant leap forward in both technology and general efficiency.
Not yet, but soon
If Amazon’s vision is realized, your crazy uncle with a tinfoil hat won’t be the only one seeing blue, white and yellow UAVs humming over your house.
At the time of this writing, Prime Air is being developed in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Israel, with “multiple international [test] locations” supporting the research. It may take this project awhile to get off the ground, but Amazon seems confident in the longevity of the program.