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In a series of “groundbreaking first” the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore successfully delivered and transplanted a donor kidney into a patient using an unmanned drone to transport the donated organ. (May 2)
AP, AP

Within a matter of months, your future Amazon orders could be delivered by a self-driving drone.

Officials with the online shopping giant unveiled the latest Prime Air drone design Wednesday at Amazon’s re:MARS Conference (Machine Learning, Automation, Robotics and Space) in Las Vegas.

“We’ve been hard at work building fully electric drones that can fly up to 15 miles and deliver packages under five pounds to customers in less than 30 minutes,” Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon Worldwide Consumer, wrote in a blog post Wednesday. “And, with the help of our world-class fulfillment and delivery network, we expect to scale Prime Air both quickly and efficiently, delivering packages via drone to customers within months.”

The exact timing and where the drones will be making deliveries was not announced.

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Wilke wrote in the blog post that Amazon is trying to get packages to consumers faster than a day and “one way we’re pursuing that goal is by pioneering autonomous drone technology.”

The new drones use computer vision and machine learning to detect and avoid people or laundry clotheslines in backyards when landing.

“From paragliders to power lines to a corgi in the backyard, the brain of the drone has safety covered,” Wilke said at the conference Wednesday.

Amazon has been working on drone delivery for years. Back in December 2013, Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos told the “60 Minutes” news show that drones would be flying to customer’s homes within five years. But that deadline passed due to regulatory hurdles.

In April, a subsidiary of search giant Google won approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to make drone deliveries in parts of Virginia.

Contributing: Associated Press

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko

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