Posted on March 25 2017
We've all been hearing about Amazon utilizing drone technology to make deliveries faster than your local pizza guy for a long time. Amazon finally made its first airborne delivery in the United States.
This would seem to be just a proof of concept designed to hit home in the highly legislated U.S. that their equipment works, and works safely. It is still not legal for a completely autonomous aircraft to deliver packages. Amazon has not let that slow them down.
Amazon released a promotional video last December showing the first Amazon Prime Air delivery in the U.K. If you have yet to see it, here it is.
So why the U.K.? Isn't Amazon an American company?
Short answer: U.K.'s CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) granted special permissions to Amazon faster than the FAA did.
That being said, the first public flight of Amazon Prime Air in the United States has been successfully completed. According to The Verge, the delivery was made "with the assistance of the FAA," - Gur Kimchi (Amazon Prime Air VP).
The order itself was, of course, prearranged. The delivery, however, remained completely autonomous. The Amazon Prime Air dropped off a small package containing a couple bottles of sunscreen for guests at Amazon's MARS Conference in Palm Springs, CA.
Check out the delivery below!
So, maybe it was a bit anticlimactic. The deliveries themselves don't look all that impressive. The impressive parts are the full autonomy and the fact that the FAA had a hand in this delivery. Amazon's biggest obstacle is not the technology as they just showed, it's regulation. The FAA not only allowing this delivery to happen, but taking part in it, shows that the FAA is interested in making this technology legal in the United States; even if their legislative speed is slower than an Entmoot (very slow).
You can watch all 3 of their promotional videos HERE, as well as "download hi-res images" which come in at about 40MB a piece.
Here's one scaled down from about 8500px to 600px.