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article imageAmazon video shows off new helicopter/plane delivery drone

By Stephen Morgan     Nov 30, 2015 in Technology
Two years after it initially announced its intention to begin a drone delivery service, Amazon today showed off its new prototype drone in a YouTube video.
The hybrid drone, called an an octocopter, has eight propellers, which means it can take off like a helicopter and fly like a plane. Furthermore, the drone has a built in radar, which is capable of sensing and avoiding obstacles in the air as well as on the ground.
The video shows the drone picking up a parcel from a belt at the warehouse, after which the box rises into a container in its underbelly. The drone then rises vertically into the air, and, when it gets to 400ft, it switches over to flying as a plane.
Amazon drone propeller for airplane mode
Amazon drone propeller for airplane mode
Once it arrives, it switches back to helicopter-mode ready for landing. While it is in a hovering position over your house, it sends a message to your computer device alerting you that it has arrived. Unlike Google which lets its package float to the ground, the drone descends right to ground level, and then its flaps open, setting the package on the floor.
The Washington Post says that its sophisticated ‘sense and avoid’ technology allows it spot any obstacles on the ground, like garden equipment or ornaments, as well kids or a dog running around. It will only descend once it has validated that the landing area is clear.
Amazon drone scanning landing spot
Amazon drone scanning landing spot
The drone weighs about 55 pounds (25 kilos) and can fly for 15 miles, at around 50 mph (80 kph). The aim is to have your order in your hands within 15 mins to 30 mins maximum. It expects to create a number of different types of drones for various environments.
One key obstacle to getting the project off the ground, is the concerns among the authorities over its safety and the fear of possible airspace collisions.
Sky News reports that regulations now being drawn up by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) states that the drone cannot fly higher than the line of sight.
Amazon, on the other hand, says that the only way its system could work, is if it is allowed to fly in designated air corridors.
CNET says the Amazon service, and others like it, are on hold, until the FAA clarifies how it will regulate unmanned aircraft being used for commercial purposes.
Amazon is trying to hurry up the process, so they can begin the service as soon as possible. A spokeswoman for Amazon, Kristen Kish, said, "We will deploy when and where we have the regulatory support needed to safely realize our vision."
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