Amazon Reveals Its New Delivery Drone


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Amazon Reveals Its New Delivery Drone

It’s a Helicopter! It’s a Plane! It’s Amazon’s new heli-plane-drone!

Ever since Amazon announced plans for its drone delivery service two years ago, it has been the subject of both severe skepticism and lofty praise (even inspiring imitations at Walmart and Google). Yet today Amazon sought to stick it to all its haters by unveiling the latest delivery drone prototype for its Prime Air service in a new advertisement.

In the advertisement, the former Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson breaks down the drone specs for the viewer, calling the prototype "a miracle of modern technology." While calling the drone a miracle might be a bit hyperbolic, the new drone certainly underscores Amazon's commitment to cutting out third party shipping operations from its business model.


The new drone has two propeller systems—one for vertical flight and one for horizontal flight—making it part helicopter and part plane, a big improvement over its previous quadcopter design. After a package (which must be 5 pounds or less) is loaded into the drone's fuselage, the drone rises vertically up to 400 feet (as per FAA regulations for hobby aircraft) and then switches propeller systems to fly horizontally to its destination.

According to the advertisement, the drone will be capable of flying up to 15 miles from its point of origin and will come outfitted with onboard "sense and avoid" systems, hopefully precluding midair collisions. For delivery, the ad shows customers setting out a drone landing pad so that the drone can sense where to land, but the details on this aspect of the process remain vague.

The one the thing the ad neglects to mention is just when we can expect to see Amazon's delivery drones in the air, but that may partly be because Amazon itself has no idea.

On its Prime Air FAQ page, Amazon writes that "We will deploy when and where we have the regulatory support needed to safely realize our vision." This may be awhile, as the online retail giant is still trying to navigate stringent FAA rules which would limit its operations, such as the requirement that drones must remain within the drone operator's line of sight.

Nevertheless, Amazon sounds determined to make its Prime Air service a reality—in the video, Clarkson declares that the new vehicle "is one of many prototype vehicles we have developed [and] in time, there'll be a whole family of Amazon drones [with] different designs for different environments."