Get up to Speed on Amazon Prime Air
By now you’ve probably heard about the drone revolution. From racing to couriers, drones are driving many major innovations. Unsurprisingly, Amazon are at the forefront of said innovations, testing autonomous drones for super-fast delivery of their wide range of products. Along with their Echo speakers with AI-driven Alexa in built and retail stores without any tills, Amazon are re-designing how we shop, so makes sense that they’re using their impressive research and development department to roll out autonomous deliveries using drones. What do we actually know about their about their plans to roll out the service?
How quick will it be?
If you are subscribed to the Amazon Prime service, the novelty of next day delivery on all ‘Prime’ branded products has long since worn off. The idea of having to wait 5 working days to receive your products seems so 00’s. Well prepare to step into the future again, as Amazon is aiming to have your products sat in your back garden within the hour once you place your order. That’s really impressive when you take into account how long it would take you to get in your car and drive to the shop.
Where will they land?
Simple answer; just about anywhere you want it to. Amazon plan to send out a small Amazon branded landing pad to its Prime subscribers with the idea that they place it on their drive or garden when they’re expecting a delivery. This landing mat is linked to your Amazon ID, so that when you make an order, the drone will pick it up and then home in on your landing pad. Once it drops off the package, you’ll receive and email to say that the product has been delivered. You can then go out and get your new pair of shoes and put the landing pad away, ready for next time.
Will it be available to everyone?
The drones will pick up the products from Amazon distribution centres and obviously have a finite distance they can travel, which means that unfortunately you’ll have to live near a distribution centre to use Amazon Prime Air. The battery life is the main restriction which is said to allow for 15 miles of travel, which means that for many drone deliveries won’t be a reality until the technology improves.
What do the drones look like?
Most of the drones you’ve seen are probably lightweight models used to capture footage on GoPro style camera. Of course, it’s difficult to imagine these drones having the capacity to lift a product and travel at any speed with it, so Amazon has had to go back to the drawing board. Numerous Prime Air prototypes have been seen in testing, some featuring a glider design, others looking like heavy duty quad-copters. Some things are certain though; it will have to have propellers that allow it take off and land vertically to prevent it crashing into properties and trees, and it’ll have to be able to carry at least a few pounds in order to deliver a good number of Amazon’s products. It’s pointless of introducing this innovative technology if it can only carry a pair of socks. Amazon believe their drones can carry 5 pounds, but we’ll see if that’s true in practice.
What if they crash into something?
If Amazon are going to start making deliveries with drones, what’s stopping them from crashing into planes, birds and other drones? Amazon have thought of this and created sophisticated technologies to allow the drones to see oncoming objects and evade them. It operates at an altitude lower than planes, so there’s no issue there, but the drones will have the ability to dodge any obstructions and still focus on your landing pad once the danger has passed. This should mean that there shouldn’t be risk of drones and Amazon branded boxes of shoes, videos games and books falling on our heads in the future.
When is it being launched?
Unfortunately, there is currently no launch date for Amazon Prime Air. Creating the technology is only half the battle; it then needs to be approved by the relevant regulatory bodies. However, drone specific regulations don’t really exist yet as it’s still a relatively new technology and these groups don’t seem to do anything fast. Until airspaces are effectively regulated with drones in mind, Amazon cannot launch the service.