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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

Amazon rolls out new drone model Sunday

Amazon+Drone
Photo by Provided Via Amazon
Amazon Drone

Amazon took another step toward its automated delivery-by-drone future with the announcement of a new unmanned aircraft system, or UAS, model Sunday.
On Sunday Amazon released a video featuring former “Top Gear” host Jeremy Clarkson alongside a new addition to its “family” of Amazon drones. The video boasts the drone will be able to travel 15 miles and reach speeds of 56 miles per hour. Another major feature of the new drone is its “sense-and-avoid” technology, which allows the drone to make adjustments to its route to avoid obstacles without human input.
The new model is part of the Amazon Prime Air program, which promises half-hour turnover times from online order to customer use for packages five pounds or less. However, Amazon must first navigate a maze of technological and bureaucratic hurdles before its vision of the future is realized.
Jerry Hendrix, executive director of the Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence and Innovation at Texas A&M Corpus Christi, said Amazon’s concept design will be the cause for additional red tape.
“The technology and regulatory challenges are tough,” Hendrix said. “Since a large part of Amazon’s package delivery approach is true Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) for multi- mile delivery, Amazon faces challenges toward regulatory operations per FAA compliance.”
Hendrix said Amazon’s intent to use BVLOS technology faces a hurdle beyond engineering — FAA regulation that currently lags behind the existing tech.
“The BVLOS solution will include an airborne sense and avoid technology those must satisfy FAA safety regulations that are yet to be defined,” Hendrix said.
Hendrix said because of the lack of policy for tech such as Amazon’s drone concepts, potential customers will have some time to wait before Prime Air gets off the ground.
“We are probably two years away from a true demonstration by Amazon in a rural area,” Hendrix said. “Full implementation is most likely five years away.”
Kelcy Klein, psychology senior, said she looks forward to what the new technology can bring in the future.
“I can see the benefits, I am just excited to see where the development goes,” Klein said. “It’s still in it’s early stages.”
Britton George, agricultural economics senior, is more hesitant.
“I would have to look into it more and get more details on it before I consider using it,” George said.

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