Back in 2013, when Amazon revealed plans to begin delivering packages via flying drones through Prime Air, some seemed skeptical about the reality of deploying such a system.
Today, Amazon doubled down on those claims by releasing a video (above) of one of the drones in action, and it’s impressive.
Presented by former Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson (who is working on a show for Amazon), the two-minute video takes us through the entire process, from ordering, to warehouse launch, to delivery.
The new drone looks a lot different from the one Amazon showed us a couple of years ago. This one has a more commercial and streamlined look, and instead of showing the package hanging in open air, the new drone hides the item in a square compartment.
According to the video (above), the drone reaches a height of about 400 feet in vertical mode and then switches to horizontal mode to travel up to 15 miles away from the warehouse. During the flight, the drone uses what Amazon calls “sense and avoid technology” to avoid collisions with other objects in its flight path.
Toward the end of the video, the drone alights atop an Amazon logo in the yard of a consumer and spits out the package (in this case, shoes) and then takes off in a matter of seconds. The delivery process, which Amazon is careful to note is real and not a simulation, comes off seamlessly, making the prospect of drone deliveries seem like something that will be viable just a few months from now.
However, despite the encouraging footage, Amazon is still holding off on announcing exactly when its drones will take to the skies. On the updated Prime Air page featuring the new flight footage, a message reads, “Putting Prime Air into service will take some time, but we will deploy when we have the regulatory support needed to realize our vision.”
The FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Registration Task Force Aviation Rulemaking Committee is still hammering out rules for private and commercial drone use in U.S. air space, so Amazon’s lack of a specific launch timeline for Prime Air is understandable. But based on the video released today, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Prime Air might not be a mere marketing stunt but a real look at the future of Amazon deliveries.
Related: PINC Air Gets Green Light from the FAA