If you’ve ever wondered what the drone-filled future of shopping might look like, you might want to take a look at Amazon's first video of Amazon Prime Air. The e-commerce giant published a YouTube video on Sunday showing how an Amazon drone might fulfill an order, the first visual example of an idea that's both captivated and alarmed people since Amazon founder Jeff Bezos first floated it on the "Charlie Rose" show last year.
Narrated by former "Top Gear" host Jeremy Clarkson, the video tells the story “from a not-too-distant future” of one handy mom ordering a pair of soccer cleats for her daughter. After being plucked off a shelf by a surprisingly unhurried Amazon warehouse worker, the shoes make their way via conveyor belt onto a blue and orange Amazon drone, which then deposits said shoes right in said mom’s backyard, thanks to a beacon she has laid out on the lawn.
“And balance,” Clarkson says, “is restored to the universe.”
Even though the Federal Aviation Administration has been taking its time building the regulatory framework needed to make commercial drone use possible, Amazon has been flying ahead on its own, thanks mostly to a regulatory exception it got from the FAA earlier this year. In August, the company received federal approval to test commercial delivery operations.
Earlier, in late July, the company unveiled a regulatory proposal that would have set aside 200 feet of airspace for commercial drone air traffic. The scale of that traffic, which would include drone fleets from Amazon and other companies, is projected to be so massive that its operation would likely “dwarf” the total number of manned flights -- some 85,000 -- that take place in U.S. airspace every year. That same proposal called for a new mode of monitoring flights, as the current model, in which human air traffic controllers monitor all flights, would be unable to handle the volume.
“A paradigm shift in airspace management and operations is necessary,” the proposal reads.
No specific details on when Amazon might begin rolling out drone deliveries have been announced. This past June, a senior FAA official said that regulations governing the commercial use of drones should be finalized within 12 months, “hopefully before June 17, 2016.”