At its re:MARS conference on Wednesday, the e-commerce and cloud giant showed off a new futuristic-looking delivery drone that it plans to use to deliver packages within months.
And separately, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gave approval on Wednesday to Amazon to operate its drones for package delivery, according to Yahoo Finance, becoming the second company after Alphabet's (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class A Report Wing Aviation to get such authorization. Amazon's approval is good for one year and then must be renewed.
Jeff Wilke, head of Amazon's worldwide consumer business, showed off the new drone. The hybrid drone looks like a cross between a drone and a small plane, and can handle vertical and horizontal movement equally well, according to Wilke. The drones use complex computer vision technology to detect static vs. moving objects and are shielded for maximum safety.
Within months, Wilke said the new Prime Air drones will be joining Amazon's existing army of 200,000 robots, 50 cargo planes, and thousands of trailers and vans used to get packages to customers.
At a press conference, Wilke said he couldn't specify precisely where the initial drone deliveries would take place but that Amazon is in the process of getting the required regulatory approvals to launch the commercial service.
The drones are capable of trips of up to 15 miles, and can deliver smaller packages that weigh five pounds or less in under 30 minutes, Wilke said. These kind of small, relatively light deliveries make up the majority of Amazon's package deliveries.
Over time, Wilke said, improving battery technology will make longer trips to deliver more complex packaging possible -- and that eventually, customers would welcome the new technology.
"Will everyone be at ease with it immediately? No, but I think over time the service will be so good that people will accept it, enthusiastically," Wilke said.
Amazon's Prime Air delivery initiative is one leg of a broader goal of doubling down on delivery efficiency. Several weeks ago, Amazon announced plans to transition its Prime two-day delivery guarantee to a one-day guarantee by the end of this year.
Amazon shares rose 0.5% to $1,738.50 on Wednesday and are up about 12% so far this year.