Amazon Prime is great if you find yourself ordering a lot of things from Amazon and your orders to arrive as quickly as possible. Prime Now is even better. But what is better than Prime Now?
How about Prime deliveries within 30 minutes? That’s exactly what Amazon Prime Air claims to be able to offer, and the company has carried out its first public demonstration in the United States in which a drone made a pre-arranged delivery of sunscreen.
While the order itself was all staged, the actual delivery of the order was fully autonomous and went ahead as if the order was one made by any normal customer.
The delivery took place at the invite-only MARS conference in California, with MARS standing for Machine learning, Automation, Robotics, and Space exploration. If that sounds familiar it is because it was the same conference at which Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, got to pilot a giant robot. Oh to be rich and famous!
Amazon says this is the first time that its drones have taken flight over public land in the United States, with previous tests having been carried out over private property. While tests have already been conducted in the UK, where laws and regulations covering drone deliveries are making quicker progress than in the United States, this new test does represent an important step for Amazon.
In an interview with The Verge, Amazon Prime Air Vice President, Gur Kimchi, said that this first public flight means that Amazon is “one step closer to making 30-minute package delivery by drone a reality.”
Interestingly, Kimchi also noted that the flight took place “with the assistance of the FAA.” This is an important point given the fact that Amazon will require regulatory approval before its drones can set about making regular deliveries to regular people. Currently autonomous drone deliveries in the US are prohibited, but perhaps the biggest hurdle past that is for tech companies and regulators to arrange for low-altitude traffic control, as and when our sky becomes crowded.
For now though, check out this video of an Amazon drone making a delivery to the MARS event.
(Video: James Vincent [YouTube])
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