Amazon's Prototype Drone Gives Glimpse At Future Of Prime Air Deliveries

Future generations won't think twice about having packages delivered by drone, it will be commonplace. In the meantime, it's still a gee-whiz concept that has yet to materialize, though it's getting close. So close, in fact, that Amazon is showing off one of its prototype drones that it plans to deploy as part of its Prime Air delivery service.

Calling it a "miracle of modern technology," this particular drone is a hybrid design that assumes a horizontal orientation. It weighs less than 55 pounds and can transport packages weighing up to 5 pounds. Using "sense and avoid" technology, the prototype drone scans the landscape to look for and avoid obstacles like hot air balloons and trees.

Amazon Prime Air Drone

Amazon's initial drone takes flight at just under 400 feet and can travel up to 15 miles. For Prime Air customers within the vicinity of its delivery range, the drone will drop off packages in 30 minutes or less.

The online retailer is learning on the fly here, pun intended. Part of that process will entail developing and testing different types of drones, of which there are already several.

"We are testing many different vehicle designs and delivery mechanisms to discover how best to deliver packages in a variety of environments," Amazon states in an FAQ page. "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."

Amazon hasn't said when it expects to deploy Prime Air drones, but make no mistake, this is happening.