- Amazon released a video over the weekend showing a prototype Prime Air drone delivery vehicle being loaded and delivering a small package.
- Initially, Amazon plans to have Prime Air drones deliver orders weighing under five pounds in 30 minutes or less,flying at altitudes of less than 400 feet.
- The company has not yet indicated when it will deploy its proposed drone delivery fleet, saying it would only do so when it has guaranteed safety and regulatory approval.
Seeing Prime Air delivery drones “will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road” if Amazon has its way. Promising deliveries of small packages worldwide in 30 minutes or less, the retail giant has released a new video of a prototype drone (this time, a pilotless rear-engine aircraft instead of an octocopter) being loaded and making a delivery to a suburban home.
Amazon says that it will only deploy its drone fleet when it can guarantee that they can fly beyond the line of sight up to 10 miles safely using “sense and avoid” technology, as well as meet all airspace regulations. The company is conducting testing from Prime Air research centers in the U.S., U.K. and Israel.
The announcement comes at a time when retailers and technology companies are trying to cut the time it takes to deliver products right to customers' homes. Shipping volume is expected to jump 45% this year thanks to e-commerce, according to the Department of Transportation. With little support and funding for infrastructure improvements getting past Congress, drone delivery may soon offer an edge to retailers and other companies eager to tap consumer spending, such as Google, which is also working on a drone.