During its re:MARS conference in Las Vegas, Amazon gave the first peak of its new fully electric delivery drone.
The new drone features an unusual hexagonal hybrid design which transitions from vertical takeoffs, similar to that of a helicopter, to fly like an airplane when in the sky. It utilizes a shroud which protects its blades as it transitions between modes and also functions as wings.
Earlier this year, the company announced that it was working toward "evolving" its Prime two-day shipping in the US into a one-day delivery service. The company explained that it believes that by developing its drone delivery service it can achieve this goal.
"We've been hard at work building fully electric drones that can fly up to 15 miles and deliver packages under five pounds to customers in less than 30 minutes," Amazon wrote in a blog. "And, with the help of our world-class fulfillment and delivery network, we expect to scale Prime Air both quickly and efficiently, delivering packages via drone to customers within months."
The company emphasized that its focus was on safety and that it would achieve this by using advanced AI in its drones.
"Some drones are autonomous but not able to react to the unexpected, relying simply on communications systems for situational awareness," explained Amazon. "If our drone's flight environment changes or the drone's mission commands it to come into contact with an object that wasn't there previously – it will refuse to do so – it is independently safe."
The new drone is also one of the company's sustainability initiatives as it attempts to achieve "Shipment Zero", its goal to make all shipments carbon neutral.
"When it comes to emissions and energy efficiency, an electric drone, charged using sustainable means, traveling to drop off a package is a vast improvement over a car on the road," the firm said.
Amazon has claimed it will start making deliveries in the coming months, although exactly when this will be remains unclear.