Amazon Sees Prime Air Delivery Drone Bringing Packages to Customers ‘Within Months’

Amazon.com (AMZN) showed off the latest design of its Prime Air delivery drone on Wednesday in Las Vegas, touting its plans to deliver packages using the devices to customers “within months.”

The drone can do vertical takeoffs and landings similar to a helicopter, while having aerodynamic efficiencies like an airplane, Jeff Wilkie, chief executive of Amazon Worldwide Consumer, said in a blog post. The e-commerce giant said it’s been working on fully electric drones that can fly up to 15 miles and deliver packages weighing under five pounds to customers in less than 30 minutes.

“With the help of our world-class fulfillment and delivery network, we expect to scale Prime Air both quickly and efficiently, delivering packages via drone to customers within months,” Wilkie said.

The drone model, which includes advances in stability and safety, follows Amazon’s plans to expand one-day shipping to members of its Prime program. On Monday, the company said more than 10 million products are now eligible for the service across the US.

Wilkie said the drone is “independently safe” and able to detect static objects like a chimney and moving items like a paraglider. The drone can also recognize and avoid wires like clothes and power lines using computer vision techniques that Amazon invented, he said.

“Our drones can recognize and avoid wires as they descend into, and ascend out of, a customer’s yard,” Wilkie said. Prime Air will also help cut back on fuel usage and reduce emissions as shoppers will be able to order from home and get the delivery, rather than going to the store, he added.

“When it comes to emissions and energy efficiency, an electric drone, charged using sustainable means, traveling to drop off a package is a vast improvement over a car on the road.”

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