Although Amazon ran a Super Bowl ad for Echo, its delivery drones stole the show.
The e-commerce titan’s Super Bowl spot featured a woman and a man sitting on a couch with a bowl of Doritos between them. The man is seen licking the Doritos’ orange cheese residue from his fingertips and returning them to the bowl for another helping. At this point, the woman throws a little side-eye his way, and says to a nearby Echo, “Alexa, reorder Doritos from Prime Air.” The Echo-Alexa system responds, “Ok, look for delivery soon.” At this point a drone comes into focus in the background.
Fine print at the end of the commercial warns viewers that drone delivery isn’t available in any US cities from Amazon Prime Air. Yet. A spokesperson for Amazon declined to answer questions about timing for the start of drone delivery in the US. But this person confirmed that the drone featured in the Super Bowl commercial was not a new model. The drone was the same type used to test and make deliveries in the UK commercially last year.
Amazon has been hyping the idea of drone delivery in the US for years now. R&D takes time, of course. But at least one other company, Flirtey, has already embarked making deliveries for 7-11 in Reno, Nevada. At this point, Amazon has at least revealed that the drones they are developing should be able to fly autonomously for 10 miles or more carrying packages to customers in under 30 minutes as part of Amazon Prime Air’s service.
Regulatory hurdles have limited the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for deliveries throughout the United States in general. Amazon has sought and attained different FAA exemptions to test and eventually use drones for deliveries, here. The FAA is expected to evolve rules to enable commercial drone use more broadly under the leadership of newly appointed Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
The Amazon spot wasn’t the only time that drones stole the show during Super Bowl LI. A fleet of Intel-powered drones also flew in a dazzling light show above Half Time headliner Lady Gaga.