Amazon Prime Air: Prime Air Delivery Drones
Amazon Prime Air is a drone delivery assistance currently in progress by Amazon. Services were expected to begin in select cities starting late 2019; however, as of March 2020, the service has yet to materialize.
Amazon’s Prime Air drone is supposed to start autonomously delivering packages to customers within months, in a bid to get orders to buyers quicker than the one-day delivery assistance.
The news was announced in the year 2019 at Amazon’s inaugural re Mars conference in Las Vegas, where the online retailer revealed the most advanced design of its Prime Air drone.
Fully electric and autonomous, the drone can fly up to 15 miles and deliver packages weighing under 2.2 kilograms to consumers in less than 30 minutes.
According to Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon’s worldwide consumer division, the company presumes to pioneer the autonomous drone technology in time to deliver parcels through the air to customers in the coming months. The precise date is still unconfirmed.
The latest drone highlights a hexagonal design that can quickly transition between its two modes of flight – its “helicopter-like” vertical takeoff and landing mode and its airplane mode.
Safety was also a principal focus on the most modern developments. The drone uses the covers that protect its blades as wings, making it both safe and effective in flight.
It is also managed with six degrees of freedom, meaning it has six independent characteristics of motion, as exposed to the standard four. This makes the machine more strong when operating in harsh weather conditions.
“We know shoppers will only feel satisfied receiving drone deliveries if they know the system is amazingly safe,” said Jeff Wilke. “So we’re building a drone that isn’t just safe, but independently safe, using the most advanced artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.”
“Some drones are autonomous but not capable of reacting to a sudden, relying simply on communications systems for situational awareness,” he continued.
“If our drone’s flight environment changes or the drone’s mission needs it to come into association with an object that wasn’t there previously – it will decline to do so,” Jeff Wilke added.
When in transition, the drone uses various sensors and advanced algorithms, such as multi-view stereo vision, to identify static objects like a chimney.
To identify moving objects in the air, like a paraglider or helicopter, it uses computer-vision and machine-learning algorithms.
It uses Amazon’s self-developed computer-vision techniques to identify and evade any hard-to-see barriers like clotheslines, telephone wires, or electrical wires that may cross customers’ gardens.
Amazon also hopes to use Prime Air as a more sustainable option to ordinary delivery alternatives like vans, saving on fuel usage, and decreasing emissions. The utterly electric delivery service is in line with the company’s vision to make half all Amazon shipments net zero carbon by 2030.
The updated design varies from Amazon’s last generation of drones, which highlighted an orange, blue, and white body that matched a typical airplane, with three tail fins and a small propellor.