Amazon has released footage of its new Prime Air delivery drone and has said it expects to deliver to the consumer ‘within months.’
Speaking at the firm’s re:Mars Conference in Las Vegas yesterday, Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon Worldwide Consumer, unveiled the new designs.
As part of his presentation, he said: “We’ve been hard at work building fully electric drones that can fly up to 15 miles and deliver packages under five pounds to customers in less than 30 minutes.”
“And with the help of our world-class fulfillment and delivery network, we expect to scale Prime Air both quickly and efficiently, delivering packages via drone to customers within months.”
Wilke went describe how the new drone’s design includes advances in efficiency, stability and safety.
The new drone has a hybrid design meaning it has VTOL capability like a helicopter while having the efficiency and aerodynamics of an airplane.
He also described how it can transition between the VTOL and airplane modes easily.
Addressing many of the safety concerns raised by the general public about drone delivery, Wilke said the drone’s AI capabilities allow it to not just fly autonomously but also react to real-life, unexpected situations, meaning the drone is ‘independently safe.’
He continued: “Our drones need to be able to identify static and moving objects coming from any direction. We employ diverse sensors and advanced algorithms, such as multi-view stereo vision, to detect static objects like a chimney.
“To detect moving objects, like a paraglider or helicopter, we use proprietary computer-vision and machine learning algorithms.”
When approaching the ground the new Amazon Prime Air drone will deploy explainable stereo vision in parallel with sophisticated AI algorithms trained to detect people and animals from above.
Additionally, it will use computer-vision techniques it has invented, to recognise and and avoid wires such as clothes lines, as it descends into a customer’s yard.
Concluding the announcement, Wilke went on to say how pleased he was with the environmental impact the drone would have.
He said: “We’re also thrilled about the potential environmental impact. Prime Air is one of many sustainability initiatives to help achieve Shipment Zero, the company’s vision to make all Amazon shipments net zero carbon, with 50% of all shipments net zero by 2030.
“When it comes to emissions and energy efficiency, an electric drone, charged using sustainable means, traveling to drop off a package is a vast improvement over a car on the road. Today, most of us run to the store because we need an item now. With a service like Prime Air, we’ll be able to order from home and stay home. This saves tremendously on fuel usage and reduces emissions,” he concluded.