It's a bird. It's a plane. It's … well, it's an Amazon drone—and one of these days it just might fly on over to your pad to drop off an Amazon order a half-hour after you place it, the Guardian reports. In a video released Sunday, the online retail giant shows off a new hybrid delivery drone that can fly both vertically and horizontally. The video shows the drone rising, helicopter-style, straight up out of an Amazon warehouse, flying like a plane at some 400 feet over a neighborhood, and then landing like a helicopter in a customer's backyard to drop off the package—in this case, soccer cleats to replace a pair chewed by a dog just before a game. A shopper is alerted via a message on a tablet that the drone has arrived. The shopper taps the tablet to OK the delivery.
The drone, says video narrator Jeremy Clarkson, formerly of the BBC, can fly up to 15 miles and uses sensors to "detect and avoid" obstacles both airborne and terrestrial. "It looks like science fiction, but it's real," says the Amazon website, adding that seeing drones delivering packages of up to 5 pounds will one day be as banal as seeing a mail truck. When might this happen? "When and where we have the regulatory support needed," Amazon says. In the US, it's not clear when that day will come, CNNMoney notes. Draft FAA regulations for drones allow only for line-of-sight flying, which can keep Amazon's drones grounded. (Meanwhile, leaked documents expose "insane" US drone program.)