Amazon has revealed a new prototype delivery drone that can fly both horizontally like a conventional plane, for high-speed delivery, and vertically, to land gently in customers' gardens when dropping off packages. The hybrid drone is intended to make 30 minute delivery runs within a 15 mile distance.
The drone was introduced by the company in a video released on Sunday, which was presented by former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, who recently signed on to present an Amazon-exclusive series after being fired by the BBC.
The hybrid vehicle includes 'detect and avoid' sensors to enable it to safely fly around obstacles, and can scan the ground for a safe landing spot. However, despite these safety features, the company is still being held back from achieving its delivery drones ambitions by government regulations.
US regulator the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has strongly fought back against commercial drone use, in particular blocking the use of automated or unmanned drones that fly beyond the pilot's line of sight. Draft regulations for drone operation in the US released in February 2015 specifically outlaw operation beyond a pilot's vision.
Amazon may have an easier time in the UK, where the British version of the FAA, the Civil Aviation Authority, has stated that it is open to the idea of delivery drones flying beyond pilot line of sight. Amazon has said that a delivery drone system is only feasible is unmanned vehicles can operate semi-autonomously, ideally within dedicated air corridors.