Amazon have announced the launch of the new Prime Air drone which can deliver goods of under five pounds in 30 minutes in the US.
Amazon say that the latest move is part of the company’s transition to offering shoppers a fast delivery service. They say that the new drone will be available to deliver packages “within months.”
The new Prime Air drone is able to fly up to 15 miles and deliver packages under five pounds to customers in less than 30 minutes. It combines designs of a helicopter and aeroplane – allowing it to do vertical takeoffs and landings – and be aerodynamic. It also easily transition between these two modes – from vertical-mode to aeroplane mode, and back to vertical mode.
Is it safe?
Amazon say that customers will only feel comfortable receiving drone deliveries if they know the system is incredibly safe. They have built the drone to not only be safe but also independently safe, using the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.
The aircraft is controlled with six degrees of freedom, as opposed to the standard four. This makes it more stable, and capable of operating safely in more gusty wind conditions.
Some drones are autonomous but not able to react to the unexpected, relying simply on communications systems for situational awareness. If Amazon drone’s flight environment changes or the drone‘s mission commands it to come into contact with an object that wasn’t there previously—it will refuse to do so—it is independently safe.
Amazon employed diverse sensors and advanced algorithms, such as multi-view stereo vision, to detect static objects like a chimney. To detect moving objects, like a paraglider or helicopter, the drone uses proprietary computer-vision and machine learning algorithms.
Approaching the ground
The new drone uses stereo vision in parallel with sophisticated AI algorithms trained to detect people and animals from above.
A customer’s yard may have clotheslines, telephone wires, or electrical wires. Wire detection is one of the hardest challenges for low-altitude flights. Through the use of computer-vision techniques Amazon invented, the new drone can recognise and avoid wires as they descend into, and ascend out of, a customer’s yard.
Amazon say that Prime Air is part of the company’s focus on making 50% of all shipments net zero by 2030. They say that the drone is charged using sustainable means.