Updated to include additional analyst comments.
In the video shown below, Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson tells "a story from the not too distant future" in which "a miracle of modern technology" delivers a pair of shoes in 30 minutes or less. Clarkson explains how the drone can fly as high as 400 feet for 15 miles, using special technology to sense and avoid obstacles in the air.
Ever since Jeff Bezos first broke the news on on CBS's 60 Minutes in 2013, Amazon has been developing and testing drones to use as a method of delivery through what it calls Prime Air. The new drone, which weighs 55 pounds, is the second design Amazon has shown to the public.
While at first the notion may have seemed insane, Amazon has since been joined by a number of other companies -- Google (GOOG) - Get Report and Walmart (WMT) - Get Report to name two -- who see drone delivery as the future.
For now, the Federal Aviation Administration is holding back Amazon and the other companies from taking the technology commercial, but the FAA has said that it plans to finalize regulations by the end of 2016, which could mean that drone delivery would really be a "not too distant future."
At a NASA conference in July, the head of Prime Air, Gur Kimchi, suggested creating a regulated highway for unmanned aerial vehicles between altitudes of 200 to 400 feet.
Assuming that plan gets the green light, Prime Air could potentially begin soon. In June, Amazon's Vice President of Global Policy, Paul Misener, said the technology would be in place and ready whenever the regulations are set.
As Amazon says on the microsite for Prime Air, "Putting Prime Air into service will take some time, but we will deploy when we have the regulatory support needed to realize our vision."
Not everyone is so sure Prime Air will be here anytime soon, however.
"I do not expect to see this work in the next 5 years," said Needham & Company analyst Kerry Rice, who also doesn't expect drone delivery to have a significant impact on Amazon's overall business.
Morningstar analyst RJ Hottovy similarly expects Prime Air to take as long as ten years to become a reality. "There's still a lot of regulatory hurdles to get over, safety testing," he said. Plus the video suggests there will still be a need to have a large landing area for the drone, which could limit the scalability of Prime Air.
"The investment they're making on traditional fulfillment is probably more meaningful to the long term, but this is a nice way to branch out and explore all types of logistics solutions and reinforces all the ways they're thinking about how to get products to consumers as quickly as possible," Hottovy said.