Delivery Drones Won’t Crash Into You or Your Clotheslines. Here’s Why

Amazon’s same-day-or-sooner fulfillment pledge doesn’t come cheap. The company has invested $33 billion in recent years on the purchase of trucks (19,000), delivery vans (30,000), cargo planes (50) and drones. Lots of fully autonomous drones.

These UAVs won’t just be powered by propellers and motors, but by machine learning, Amazon chief technology officer Werner Vogels explained Thursday in a keynote presentation at World Summit A.I. in Amsterdam.

“Safety is the most important thing. We use many different sensors to ensure it doesn’t crash into anything, or that any other bad things will happen,” he says. The e-commerce giant will equip the drones with its computer vision algorithms so that when it finally gets the regulatory green-light to launch the service, the winged machines will be able to land at the correct door step without bumping into anything.

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That’s no small feat. Vogels shared a number of examples of what the drone could encounter en-route: all manner of flying objects, clothes lines and power lines, and, closer to the ground, humans and their pets. Its eyes will be cameras and sensors built with a combination of stereoscopic, image segmentation and heat-mapping technologies… Fortune

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