Amazon has made no secret that it wants to start an aerial delivery service using drones and is continuing to invest in the idea. In its latest move, the company has released a video presented by former Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson that unveils its latest autonomous drone designed to deliver small packages in under 30 minutes.
Part of Amazon's planned Prime Air Delivery service, the new drone is larger than the previous version and has a more advanced design, including the ability to apparently operate with an autoloading system that sets the payload inside an internal carrier bay. Unlike the previous drone, which was a quadcopter, this one has a hybrid design that combines vertical lift and horizontal flight capabilities using lift fans and a pusher prop.
Amazon hasn't given out too many details as to specs, but the drone is capable of flying at an altitude of about 400 ft (122 m) at about 55 mph (88 km/h) for a range of 15 mi (24 km). It has sense-and-avoid situational awareness technology, so it can identify and avoid obstacles in the air and while taking off and landing.
To prevent the neighbors nicking your new shoes, Amazon will send a notice as the drone approaches its destination. When it arrives, the craft goes into vertical mode, makes a visual scan of the area for obstacles, then homes in a landing marker put out by the recipient that matches the address. The drone then drops the package and immediately returns to base.
Amazon says that it will eventually develop a family of delivery drones to suit different environments. No start date for the projected Prime Air Delivery service has been announced, but this is not surprising given that the company is still ironing out technical details as well as dealing with the US FAA's still uncertain new regulations involving commercial drones.
Here's Clarkson in the latest Amazon Prime Air promo video: