Amazon have proved their advancement in the eCommerce market as they unveil their new Amazon Air, a concept drone delivery service that may not be that far from completion. The company have already shown off a concept of what their airborne drones will look like, however it is said that there are multiple designs and types that may be hitting the skies. As of yet the programme has not been released but it is expected to be a costly and highly limited service to begin with.
The showcased drones feature a vertical takeoff and landing with a horizontal flight pattern. This form of takeoff and landing offer a more promising delivery service and a low takeoff or land could result in the drone hitting obstacles such as trees as it lowers itself in, and even nosy neighbours that may find a way to reach the drone before it has reached its destination. It will also save space, as it means there will need to be less of a clearance around where the drone will land and take off, making it more reasonable for customers with smaller landing spaces.
Its maximum altitude is currently 100 metres and has capabilities to reach speeds around 100 kph, this speed ensures quick delivery while its height has more vulnerability. This is because its height is a perfect match to the usual flying height of birds, Amazon however have already thought of this problem as the drones come fitted with sense-and-avoid technology that will allow them to move around an obstacle such as a bird or a telephone pole when in flight and even features navigation tools alongside its GPS system to ensure the drone stays on track even after an unexpected change of direction due to obstruction.
You may be wondering how this drone will know how and where to land safely, and in a sense it won’t, you will be required to set out an Amazon-branded landing mat that will help the drone guide itself in and will also act as a safe and clean landing space for it to leave its parcel, avoiding muddy deliveries. This landing mat works perfectly in open spaces, however if you like in a clustered city or a block of flats delivery by Amazon air may be significantly harder as there will be less options for a private or unobstructed landing space to provide for the drone.
As with many pieces of mobile technology the drones will be running on battery life and will have to return to recharge after every delivery it makes as it will have been drained of power. At full charge the drones are expected to be able to cover and all round distance of 15 miles, meaning it will have to fly to its destination, drop off its parcel and return back to its Amazon base within that distance. Which unfortunately means for people living far out into the countryside, that this delivery system may just not be available for a very long time.
The idea behind Amazon air, as with most delivery advances, is to save time on shipping and delivery. Amazon currently offer next and same day delivery depending on the area or time of day an order is placed, and even offer a 1-hour delivery option for customers of some major cities. These drones push those time boundaries further and offer to deliver their service within half an hour, which gets rid of Amazon’s current huge delivery time windows and allows the customer to even pause or hold off their delivery momentarily if they are currently unable to collect their parcel when the drone becomes close to its destination.
This development is still quite far away from becoming everyday reality however, as Amazon currently have their technology in place but regulations have not been cleared to allow their service to take place. Their first test flight was launched in Early December 2016, delivering a Fire TV stick and popcorn to Cambridge in the UK with a waiting time of 13 minutes, proving that their system does work, they just need to permission to launch it.