Two years ago, Jeff Bezos, the founder, and CEO of retail giant Amazon Inc. announced that the company would soon be introducing Amazon Prime Air - A new 30-minute delivery service using unmanned drones. Timed to coincide with the country's biggest online shopping day - 'Cyber Monday,' the news generated a lot of excitement among consumers. Unfortunately, thanks to the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), the service has yet to 'take off!' But Amazon has not given up.
On November 30th, which also happened to be 'Cyber Monday', the company released a video of a new and improved drone. Adorned with Amazon's signature blue, white, and yellow colors, the delivery vehicle is larger than the one unveiled in 2013.
It can travel a distance of 15-miles at speeds of up to 55mph. Although the new drone takes off vertically like a quadcopter, its hybrid design that includes a rear propeller allows it to fly like an airplane.
To avoid both foot and air traffic, the drone is built to fly at a 'safe' altitude of 400-feet. Advanced sensors ensure that the autonomous vehicle can avoid obstacles both while in the air, and also during take off and landing.
Also, unlike the previous prototype, this one does not drop the packages to the ground. Instead, it seeks out a predesignated landing area chosen by the customer. To ensure that the drop-off zone is clear, and the parcel does not fall into wrong hands, the drone is programmed to notify the client its exact arrival time.
Sounds too good to be true? Well, it is for now given that FAA officials are still trying to decide how to regulate commercial drones. But Amazon is not worried. The company officials are so confident that Amazon Prime Air will be a reality soon that they are busy developing a 'family' of drones to handle all kinds of weather and terrain. But for now, we will just have to live with the “inconvenience” of waiting at least two days to receive our urgent packages!