Online retailer Amazon has revealed more details of its drone-based delivery service with the first Prime Air package to one of two trial customers now active in the Cambridge area of the UK.
In three online videos posted on 14 December, Amazon also disclosed that trial deliveries could expand within months to hundreds of customers near the Cambridge-area Prime Air delivery centre.
The first such delivery on 7 December was fulfilled using a quadrotor drone. A Prime Air customer placed the order using a computer, which was routed to the fulfillment centre. The order for an Amazon-made Fire TV and a popcorn snack was loaded by human operators into a cardboard box that was placed on a conveyor belt.
The belt transported the package to a waiting quadrotor, where it was loaded onboard by machines. The quadrotor took off and flew with the package over a rural area. The drone landed at a pre-designated landing zone on the customer’s property, released the package and took-off to return to the fulfillment centre.
In another narrated Amazon video advertisement for Prime Air, British TV host Jeremy Clarkson said Amazon will develop a family of drones designed for different environments. The first delivery was performed by a quadrotor, but Amazon also has developed a longer-range drone capable of flights up to 15 miles.
The drones will GPS-guided, equipped with optical sense-and-avoid technology and remain below 400ft, according to the Amazon-produced videos. Deliveries will be limited to packages weighing less than 2.27kg (5lb).