You barely see it dropping out of the sky from around 400 feet.
It’s bigger than your family pet, judging from the pictures.
And, it can deliver a five-pound package to your doorstep with no problems.
Amazingly, this technology is not some far-off science-fiction fantasy. Amazon announced their Prime Air delivery service will be ramping up in the U.K. soon, tackling some of the regulatory issues and sensor technology in a limited trial to see how it all pans out. A cheeky video starring none other than Jeremy Clarkson from the Top Gear (and now Amazon show The Grand Tour) explains how it works.
On a tablet, you’ll punch in an order. Now, if this works anything like the Prime Now service in Minneapolis that I’ve used many times, there’s a limited selection of products. It’s mostly charger cables, books and ink cartridges -- those last-minute items you need now. In the video, a mom orders soccer shoes. Yet, the drone looks massive -- dwarfing a wooden fence in the background. There are no specs, but I’m picturing something about the size of the DJI Spreading Wings S1000 that looks like it could double as a military aircraft or lift a small child.
Within a 30-minute window, the drone will alert you about the delivery. You'll use an Amazon landing pad you lay on the ground near your home. The sensor technology will know if there is a pet nearby or a child and stop flying. It will likely hover in place until it can land, and it’s probably made of carbon fiber or a high-density plastic. My other theory is that the drone itself is not overly expensive -- the tech behind it is the true innovation. If someone were to steal the drone, look out -- it likely has GPS on board and can help Amazon to track you down.
I’ve tested quite a few robotic appliances lately. I recently reviewed the Husqvarna AutoMower 450x -- it’s been my summer of not mowing because the bot worked so well. Lately, I’ve unleashed a robotic vacuum cleaner from Dyson called the 360 Eye. It can sense when it is near a staircase and stop, and it can lift itself over an obstruction like a floor divider.
In automotive tech, cars like the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class can drive autonomously for short periods up to 130MPH on curvy roads. When you drive cars like this, it feels like there’s an invisible shield around you (because, in some ways, there is) looking for dangers and nudging you back in your lane.
That’s why I’m betting the Prime Air tech is similarly advanced. It will likely swoop in quickly, drop the package, and ascend to 400 feet again with barely a whisper.
Most importantly, it’s proof that Amazon is becoming one of the most important companies in tech, if not the most important. Facebook wants to fly airplanes around the world to deliver the Internet, Google is making a self-driving car, but Amazon has become the only retailer some people use. It owns e-commerce. A few family and friends order everything from the everything store. It’s amazing.
Amazon Alexa is also a hit, the company has one of the best cloud services available, and now they are going to deliver packages using drones. What else will they do?
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