A new drone program announced by Amazon

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 11th June 2019

Amazon moves closer to its goal of a drone delivery solution that scales to meet the needs of customers.

Amazon announced a new drone design at its re:MARS (Machine Learning, Automation, Robotics and Space) conference in Las Vegas, aimed at facilitating faster last-mile deliveries to consumers.

The hexagonal drone can fly for up to 15 miles, reach consumer locations within 30 minutes and carry parcels of up to five pounds.

Amazon said it expects to deliver packages to consumers via drone “within months.” It did not specify where or when it would test the drone.

“When we announced earlier this year that we were evolving our Prime two-day shipping offer in the U.S. to a one-day program, the response was terrific. But we know customers are always looking for something better, more convenient, and there may be times when one-day delivery may not be the right choice. Can we deliver packages to customers even faster? We think the answer is yes, and one way we’re pursuing that goal is by pioneering autonomous drone technology.” Jeff Wilke, Amazon Blog Editor.

The drones need to be able to identify static and moving objects coming from any direction. The employ diverse sensors and advanced algorithms, such as multi-view stereo vision, to detect static objects like a chimney. To detect moving objects, like a paraglider or helicopter, they use proprietary computer-vision and machine learning algorithms.

For the drone to descend for delivery, it needs a small area around the delivery location that is clear of people, animals, or obstacles. It determines this using explainable stereo vision in parallel with sophisticated AI algorithms trained to detect people and animals from above.

A customer’s yard may have clotheslines, telephone wires, or electrical wires. Wire detection is one of the hardest challenges for low-altitude flights. Through the use of computer-vision techniques that Amazon invented, our drones can recognize and avoid wires as they descend into, and ascend out of, a customer’s yard.

To read more and to have a look at the original Amazon release, click here