If you were one of the estimated 100 million+ viewers of Super Bowl 51, you saw some drones. There were the 200 quadcopters from Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) that were part of Lady Gaga’s halftime show. Those we were expecting, but another drone that showed up was a surprise. Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) chose the Super Bowl to tease Amazon Prime Air — packages delivered to your home by AMZN drones.
A big part of the Super Bowl experience is the advertising. This is the one time of year when viewers actually want to see commercials. And with those viewers estimated at over 100 million, companies that forked out over $5 million for a 30-second spot make a big splash.
Heck, even in Canada, the networks were forced to run American ads instead of substituting local commercials.
And those 100 million-plus viewers saw a very short teaser commercial with an Amazon drone hovering outside the window of a woman who had just ordered some snacks: Amazon Prime Air.
According to the voice of Alexa, AMZN’s personal digital assistant, we can “Look for delivery soon.”
History of Amazon Prime Air
How can you talk about the history of a service that doesn’t yet exist? In the case of Amazon Prime Air and its use of Amazon drones, there’s already a big backstory to talk about. AMZN has a website where it describes the services, shows off a number of Amazon drone videos and even has an FAQ section that spikes out many of the details about Amazon Prime Air.
“We’re excited about Prime Air — a delivery system from Amazon designed to safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles, also called drones. Prime Air has great potential to enhance the services we already provide to millions of customers by providing rapid parcel delivery that will also increase the overall safety and efficiency of the transportation system.”
The Amazon Prime Air story kicked off in 2013, when AMZN CEO Jeff Bezos took the wraps off a top secret project with Amazon drones on 60 Minutes. Delivery of items under five pounds that would fit in the quadcopter’s bucket would take place in under 30 minutes. At the time, Bezos told viewers to expect Amazon Prime Air within four to five years.
Last December, a milestone was reached when AMZN claimed the first Amazon drone delivery — an Amazon Fire TV and a bag of popcorn. As part of an Amazon Prime Air trial in the U.K., the company’s drones had begun autonomously delivering packages to a very small group of consumers.
At the end of the year, the company hit the news again when it was discovered it had filed a patent for a flying warehouse that would serve as an airborne base for Amazon drone deliveries.
When Can You Expect an Amazon Drone at Your Window?
Despite the Super Bowl ad and Alexa’s promise that Amazon Prime Air is coming soon, it’s a little early to get excited yet. In particular, there are regulatory hurdles to overcome. FAA restrictions on drones that aren’t flying in line-of-site operation were the primary reason why the Amazon drone trial is taking place in the U.K. instead of here. AMZN even put up a small disclaimer on its ad:
“Prime Air is not available in some states (or any really). Yet.”
But the fact that it spent the big Super Bowl ad bucks and showed off that Amazon drone to millions of viewers shows AMZN is serious about this. Amazon Prime Air may not be launching tomorrow, but the company is determined to get people excited about drone delivery. The campaign to turn Amazon drone delivery into the next big thing has officially begun.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.