Amazon's delivery drone army sounded an awful lot like a hypothetical doomed to insurmountable government regulations when the idea first appeared two years ago, but a new ad starring former Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson proclaims that it's really happening in the US. Positing the "Amazon Prime Air" as a solution to the case of a damaged soccer shoe, the commercial seems to feature actual footage of Amazon's new unmanned aerial vehicle in action. It floats from the ground with a large helicoptor-like rotor, then zips itself forward with an airplane-style propeller, kind of like a simplified version of the US military's Osprey Tiltrotor.
The spot makes a point of noting the drone's protocol for flying 400' in the air, which, Motherboard points out, is in accordance with FAA regulations for hobby aircraft. Clarkson enthusiastically describes the aircraft's "sense and avoid technology," which will theoretically steer it away from airborne threats like birds or other drones, and then land it safely in the nearest open area. It looks like it may be guided by some sort of landing pad you can put out, but details on that front are sparse.
Overall, the ad is much more informative than 2013's vaporware campaign, which didn't explain squat about how the system worked, relying on video of a shaky quadcopter to sell the idea. There are still some obvious questions hanging in the air, like, "When will Prime Air be available?" and, "Will we still be able to see the sky once it's swarming with tiny robots?" Amazon's official statement says, "Putting Prime Air into service will take some time, but we will deploy when we have the regulatory support needed to realise our vision." It sounds like Jeff Bezos' tech empire has the same questions we do.
Check out the Prime Air drone in action below.
Keep up to date on Amazon Prime Air on the official websie.