Remember back in December 2013 when CEO Jeff Bezos revealed Amazon Prime Air, a futuristic drone system that is supposed to one day deliver your packages in 30 minutes or less? Almost two years later, as competitors scramble to match it, the company is once again pushing its idea forward, this time with an ad narrated by Top Gear’s ex-cohost, Jeremy Clarkson.
The goal here is to show you just how useful Prime Air, which is currently being developed in the U.S., the U.K., and Israel, could be if regulators ever approve deliveries by drones. The new video shows the latest prototype model of the Prime Air drone: It’s larger, features a propeller system for vertical takeoff and a second one for horizontal travel to the destination, and is apparently just one of many (although all will apparently fly under 400 feet and weigh less than 55 pounds).
“In time, there will be a whole family of Amazon drones; different designs for different environments,” Clarkson explains. “This one can fly for 15 miles, and it knows what’s happening around it. It uses ‘sense and avoid’ technology to well, sense, and then avoid, obstacles on the ground and in the air.”
Drones can detect a landing area for dropping off packages that weigh up to five pounds. Customers will presumably have to somehow specify a “delivery zone” for drones to land in for package delivery.
Here’s Amazon’s pitch:
We’re excited about Prime Air — a future delivery system from Amazon designed to safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using small unmanned aerial vehicles, also called drones. Prime Air has great potential to enhance the services we already provide to millions of customers by providing rapid parcel delivery that will also increase the overall safety and efficiency of the transportation system. Putting Prime Air into service will take some time, but we will deploy when we have the regulatory support needed to realize our vision.
This ad is clearly looking to get Amazon customers excited (Clarkson uses phrases like “amazing innovation”) about unmanned aerial vehicles and deliveries that arrive “in 30 minutes or less.” The online retailer giant is apparently hoping the public will push the FAA to approve a future where Amazon, and its competitors, deliver by drone.
As for the drone itself, the design sure has changed over the past two years (Amazon says it has developed “more than a dozen” prototypes in its research and development labs). For comparison, here is the original video Amazon released back in December 2013: