Amazon announced its newest fully electric delivery drone today during its first re:Mars conference (Machine Learning, Automation, Robotics and Space) in Las Vegas.
“We’ve been hard at work building fully electric drones that can fly up to 15 miles and deliver packages under five pounds to customers in less than 30 minutes,” Jeff Wilke stated.
The drone features a hexagonal hybrid design, while there are hardly any moving parts. It uses the shroud, which protects its blades, as wings while it transitions from a vertical, helicopter-like flight at takeoff to its airplane-like mode.
Many advances in efficiency, stability and safety are found within the newest drone design as the company knows customers will feel comfortable with such deliveries if they know the systems secure. Therefore, the drone is controlled with six degrees of freedom, as opposed to the standard four, making it more stable and capable of operating safely in windy conditions.
The aircraft is full of sensors and computer modules which run a variety of machine learning models that keep the drone safe. Even if it’s not connected to a network or it runs into an issue, it’ll still react appropriately and safely.
“Our sense and avoid technology is what makes the drone independently safe,” Gur Kimchi, Amazon’s VP for its Prime Air program told TechCrunch prior to today’s announcement. “I say independently safe because that’s in contrast to other approaches where some of the safety features are off the aircraft. In our case, they are on the aircraft.”
In addition, he stressed that Amazon designed virtually all of the drone’s software and hardware stack in-house. “We control the aircraft technologies from the raw materials to the hardware, to software, to the structures, to the factory to the supply chain and eventually to the delivery,” he said. “And finally the aircraft itself has controls and capabilities to react to the world that are unique.”
According to Amazon, these drones will begin making deliveries to customers “within months,” though it remains unknown where it will make its first delivery to.