Amazon Unveils Prime Air Drone Delivery Plans Just in Time for Cyber Monday
Amazon has unveiled its newest plans for a drone delivery system it says will fly products directly to consumers' homes in 30 minutes or less.
The online sales giant used the occasion of Cyber Monday -- set to be the biggest shopping day ever with sales predicted to hit $3 billion -- to unveil its updated future delivery project, Prime Air.
"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," Amazon wrote in a statement.
Per Amazon's plans, the drones will fly at an altitude under 400 feet and weigh less than 55 pounds. They will use “sense and avoid” technology, as well as a high degree of automation, to safely operate beyond the line of sight to distances of 10 miles or more.
Amazon will not put a start date on its Prime Air plans, but claims to have development centers in the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel.
This isn't the first big announcement from Amazon concerning their proposed drone program.
In 2013, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took to 60 Minutes to discuss plans for an army of unmanned delivery drones.
But the drones have since been updated, according to the company's newest press materials.
Back then, the Prime Air drones looked a lot like small, personal drones -- using multiple propellers to buzz around.
In its latest incarnation, Prime Air will feature helicopter/airplane hybrid drones that take off and land vertically while flying to their destination more like a plane.
Not surprisingly, the company says even these futuristic drones may not be the ones that are ultimately used.
"We have more than a dozen prototypes that we’ve developed in our research and development labs. The look and characteristics of the vehicles will evolve over time," the company wrote.