The battle to deliver your goods as fast as possible is taking to the skies. Amazon unveiled its new delivery drone today at its re:Mars conference in Las Vegas and said it would start delivering packages to people “within months.”
The first thing you notice about the fully electric drone is its unique design that combines elements of both a helicopter and an airplane. From the blog post announcing the drone:
It can do vertical takeoffs and landings – like a helicopter. And it’s efficient and aerodynamic – like an airplane. It also easily transitions between these two modes – from vertical-mode to airplane mode, and back to vertical mode.
The best way to get a sense of it is to watch this video (complete with soothing music) of the drone in flight:
Amazon’s drone can fly up to 15 miles and deliver packages that are less than five pounds (like a latte!) in less than 30 minutes.
The company is also touting the device’s numerous safety features. The propellers are completely shrouded and those shrouds acts as wings during flight. There are also numerous sensors, cameras and artificial intelligence on board so it can navigate unexpected obstacles or weather conditions during flight, as well as land safely in someone’s yard without running into wires or curious/agitated pets.
Amazon’s drone unveiling comes more than five years after Jeff Bezos first dropped the idea that Amazon was exploring drone delivery. It also comes just over a month since Google’s Wing Aviation got Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Transportation approvals to make commercial drone deliveries. Part of the reason they were able to do so was because Google basically went through the process of becoming a small airline. Amazon didn’t say where it was in the regulatory process, or where in the world it would be making deliveries, but the company does already know a thing about delivery by air with its fleet of 50 cargo planes.
In addition to Amazon and Google duking it out over drone dominance, look for an ecosystem of startups to spring up to help facilitate drone delivery. Already companies like AirSpace Link are providing services like route mapping for companies that want to do drone delivery.