Amazon.com has revealed that it's made its first delivery by autonomous aerial drone, to a chap named “Richard B” who lives somewhere in Cambridgeshire, England.
Richard ordered a bag of popcorn and an Amazon Fire TV.
Amazon's released a saccharine video to mark the occasion. If you'd rather not endure it embedded below, the salient points are:
- The drones are powered by electricity;
- The drones are loaded in an Amazon warehouse, are then placed on a on a platform that's mounted on rails. The platform slides out of the building and at the end of the line the drone buzzes off into the sky;
- It looks like a human operator oversees the launch, but we don't see a human with override of the autonomous flight as required by UK law;
- Order-to-delivery time of 30 minutes gets a mention;
- Richard B's home is in a rural area surrounded by open ground;
- The drone lands well clear of his home, on a small target placed on the ground;
- Amazon says the drone flies at “under 400 feet” and can lift “under five pounds";
- The beta will expand to “hundreds” of customers in coming weeks and months;
- Delivery will be possible “within several miles” of Amazon's shed;
- A limited range of products is on offer: the video mentions electronics, snacks and pet food.
There's not much else we can tell you: Amazon's only released a little information and that was carefully-packaged.
We can say that Amazon's clearly getting quite close to making drone deliveries a reality, while also wondering if the rural setting for the test indicates the system may not yet be ready to fly in denser urban environments. ®