Amazon’s new Delivery Drone

Introduced by Jeremy Clarkson. Drones are no longer just for warfare or intelligence-gathering. As with many military technology, we ha...

Introduced by Jeremy Clarkson.

Drones are no longer just for warfare or intelligence-gathering. As with many military technology, we have found a practical, everyday, non-violent use for it (the GPS, computer and microwave, for instance, have military origins). Amazon is showing off its latest delivery drone in a fresh new video, hosted by none other than Mister Jeremy Clarkson. No doubt this appearance is part of his new contract with Amazon Prime, which includes at least three seasons of a rehashed version of Top Gear.

This is not quite as uncharacteristic of him as the other ad he has starred in for Amazon.

The Amazon Prime Air, as the drone is called, has a 24-kilometre flight range with a maximum height of 122 meters. It will be able to help fulfill customer orders in 30 minutes or less (taking a leaf out of the pizza delivery book?), as long as the address is in the right area. This version of the Amazon Prime Air is only one out of 12 different prototypes that the online retailer is working on at the moment.

Amazon has big dreams for their delivery drones. It is proposing a slice of airspace to be segregated specifically for high-speed, aerial drones – imagine a future with thousands of automated drones zipping over our heads, without (or minimal) human navigation. This might be the stuff that science-fiction is made of, but with GPS, sensor and mobile communication technologies advancing so rapidly, the retail giant’s vision could become reality within 10 years. The company proposes that the space between 200 to 400 feet above ground to be reserved for sophisticated drones, equipped with sensors and communication equipment, and flying at speeds above 60 knots. The 100 feet above that zone can be designated a no-fly zone, a buffer between the drones and airplanes.

With unconventional ideas, come conventional worries, so Amazon will have to deal with concerns over privacy and safety. The company has lamented that the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is slow to grant permission for testing, which led to Amazon moving its team of software engineers, robotiscists and aeronautics experts to British Columbia, Canada. If Amazon and other businesses pursuing a similar end can overcome the myriad of hurdles, this could change the transportation, logistics and postal industries – road traffic could decrease, fuel consumption reduced and waiting time shortened. But...who would our dogs bark at when the mail gets delivered?

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