Amazon vice president spills the beans on why Prime Air will be the future of delivery
Amazon has revealed a range of further details on how it plans to deploy its next-generation delivery drones.
In an interview with Yahoo Tech, Amazon vice president Paul Misener offered up an explanation of how the company’s Prime Air delivery service will work and how Amazon is overcoming some of the problems it has encountered.
Amazon is hoping to get its drones into public use within the next few years following the completion of a thorough testing period, which will see how the drones cope with a range of deliver challenges.
Misener said that Prime Air will look to get packages to customers within 30 minutes of them completing their online order. The drones will be able to operate over a range of 10 miles, and will be able to deliver parcels that weigh up to five pounds (around 2.2kg), as the vast majority of the things Amazon sells weigh less than this.
The drones themselves will be markedly different from consumer-facing products you can currently buy in shops, Misener says, as they feature “sense-and-avoid technology”, which allows them to detect and avoid obstacles.
“These drones are more like horses than cars, Misener said. “If you have a small tree in your front yard, and you want to bang your car into it for some reason, you can do that. Your spouse might not be happy with you, but you can do it. But try riding a horse into the tree. It won’t do it. The horse will see the tree and go around it. Same way our drones will not run into trees, because they will know not to run into it.”
The design team behind Amazon Prime Air includes some impressive qualifications, as well, as Misener notes that it includes aeronautical engineers, roboticists and even a former NASA astronaut.
“These folks are completely focused on making this a reality — and demonstrating that it is safe before we begin operations,” he says.
As for regulatory obstacles, Misener says that Amazon already talked with both the FAA and NASA about its intentions to fly its drones between 200 and 400 feet, and he believes the two regulatory organisations “welcome the thinking that has gone into it.”
And if the drones are completed before the government regulations are in place, Amazon may choose to launch Prime Air away from its homeland, Misener said, noting that, “there’s no reason why the United States must be first.”
“Challenges are there, for sure, but once we demonstrate that this is safe, we’ll be able to take it to the regulators and hopefully deploy it for our customers quickly,” Misener says. “I’ve seen it. It’s gonna happen. It’s coming.”
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