Amazon has released a new video showing off a drone delivering its first package. The milestone wasn’t achieved in the U.S., where regulations are stricter — instead, the company got approval for U.K. drone delivery tests in July. The first successful Prime Air trip, 13 minutes from order time to package arrival, was made in Cambridge on December 7, 2016.
Back in December 2013, Amazon 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. Three years later, as the concept has slowly but surely gained traction, Amazon wants customers to get excited.
But just like last year, when the company tapped Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson, this year’s video once again feels like a PR stunt ahead of the holiday season. There may not be a celebrity, but the message is clear:
Get excited about the cool technology we’re working on to make shopping easier! You can’t use it yet, but you should be excited! We got you excited so you should shop with us!
Amazon’s GPS-guided drones can detect a landing area (in this case, a pad in the customer’s garden) for dropping off packages that weigh up to five pounds. The main goal of the private trial is to improve delivery safety:
Safety is our top priority. Our vehicles will be built with multiple redundancies, as well as sophisticated “sense and avoid” technology. Additionally, through our private trial in the UK, we will gather data to continue improving the safety and reliability of our systems and operations.
The Prime Air trial, available to a select few Amazon customers near its Cambridge facility, is currently only permitted to operate during daylight hours when there are low winds and good visibility. Rain, snow, or icy conditions will only be attempted once Amazon has “gathered data to improve the safety and reliability of our systems and operations.”
In addition to the U.S. and the U.K., Amazon also has Prime Air development centers in Austria and Israel. This year’s video depicts a quadcopter drone, but Amazon is testing various vehicle designs and delivery mechanisms that it hopes to use depending on the environment.