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5 new things we learned about Amazon’s drone delivery program

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The interview is worth a full read if you have the time, but if you don’t, here are the five major takeaways about Amazon Prime Air we learned from Misener.

1. They’ll be used mostly for small and quick deliveries

So much for a drone delivering a 60-inch 4K TV for your last-minute Super Bowl party. Misener says Prime Air drones will weigh about 55 pounds and will deliver packages that weigh up to five pounds within 30 minutes.

So, big bag of tortilla chips and a jar of salsa: Yes. Eleven pounds worth of frozen hot dogs: No.

2. There will be different kinds drones

People live in different types of climates. Misener says Amazon wants to deliver by drone to everyone, whether they live in hot, dry, cold or wet places. Same goes for apartment buildings and suburban houses. The company is working on several drone prototypes to best fit each situation.

“We want to be able to service all of those customers,” says Misener. “And it may take a different kind of a drone to best work in each one.”

 

3. They (hopefully) won’t be noisy

If you’ve ever flown even a personal drone, you know that the spinning rotors can be loud — scary loud.

Misener says Amazon’s delivery drones — if designed correctly — won’t be obnoxious and noisy; engineers are working hard to dampen the noise.

 

4. They can avoid objects

It’s a given that Amazon’s delivery drones will be more sophisticated than a typical DJI Phantom. Misener says Amazon’s drones are “highly automated” and have “sense-and-avoid technology,” which allows them to see obstacles and notcrash into them.

That’s good news. Nobody wants to wake up every morning hearing about how yet another drone slammed into yet another building or took a person’s eye out.

5. They won’t crash into airplanes

Safety is the number one concern with drones. Amazon’s proposal is for its delivery drones to fly between altitudes between 200 and 400 feet. A 100-foot buffer would exist between 400 feet and 500 feet, where manned aircraft would fly above 500 feet. Amateur drones would only be able to fly up to 200 feet in the air.

Misener says this airspace designation would “keep the drones separated from the aircraft.” It’s only a proposal Amazon’s suggested to regulators such as the Federal Aviation Administration right now, though. Currently, amateur drones can be flown up to 400 feet.

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