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Amazon delivery drone
An Amazon delivery drone flies around the MARS conference in Palm Springs, Calif. (Jason Johnson via Periscope)

Amazon’s Prime Air drone made its first package delivery in December, in England, but regular folks haven’t seen it in action out in the open here in the States. Until today.

The drone demonstrated its delivery technique during Amazon’s MARS 2017 conference at a resort in Palm Springs, Calif. The merchandise? A box containing sunscreen for the sunny California weather, of course.

Amazon has been providing glimpses of its prototype drones for well more than a year, and the testing continues in the U.S. and Britain as well as other countries. However, the previous peeks we’ve gotten have been professionally packaged videos, created by Amazon.

In contrast, today’s video was basically a smartphone clip shot by Jason Johnson, who’s the founder and CEO of August Home (and an attendee at MARS 2017).

You can see the quadcopter flying in over a lawn at the resort, touching down on a target square, dropping off its package and then flying away. Another attendee, Caltech researcher Christine Corbett Moran, reports that there was sunscreen inside the package. (On her website, Corbett Moran reports that she’s a finalist for NASA’s next astronaut candidate class, due to be named in June.)

Corbett Moran also got a chance to take a walk on a virtual Mars, and sit in the pilot seat of the giant Method-2 robot that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos rode in on the night before.

The drone demonstration suggests that Amazon is making progress in its Prime Air development effort. When the service goes commercial, it’s expected to deliver packages in 30 minutes or less, using flying robots that can travel up to 50 mph. One thing that’s noticeable in the video: The darn thing makes quite a racket.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Amazon is providing a sneak peek at its delivery drones at MARS 2017. Amazon is presenting the semi-secret conference this week to show off technologies in Machine learning, home Automation, Robotics and Space exploration for a select audience. For more peeks, follow the #MARS2017 hashtag on Twitter.

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