Amazon is moving forward with its plans to use drones for delivery with a new hybrid drone design that can do vertical takeoffs and landings (VTOL) but is aerodynamic like an airplane.
The drone can switch between two modes—vertical and airplane—with six degrees of freedom as opposed to the standard four. Amazon said this allows the drone to be more stable and safer in all conditions.
Using artificial intelligence (AI) and a sensor suite, the drone can fly autonomously without threatening other aircraft or those on the ground. The drone will be electric as part of the company’s strategy to make all Amazon shipments net zero carbon with 50% of all shipments net zero by 2030.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a certification to Amazon allowing it to operate the new drone for package deliveries for the next year. As a result, Amazon said it might start drone deliveries for packages beginning in the next few months. Google’s Waymo is the only other device to receive FAA certification for drone delivery, although the FAA has issued testing permits for a number of companies to explore the use of drones as delivery.
Over the past few years, Amazon has been exploring numerous ways in which the future of last mile delivery will take shape.
The company was the first to discuss the possibility of using drones for delivery way back in 2013. At the time this idea was considered to be a pipe dream that would never happen. However, today numerous startups are testing drone deliveries and more recently major companies are signing onto the idea in order to compete.