If you had “Amazon will make deliveries by drone” on your bingo card for 2022, you just barely scored. With only days left in the year, Amazon announced that it had made its first deliveries from its new sites in Texas and California.
David Carbon, Vice President of Prime Air at Amazon, the drone delivery arm of the e-commerce giant, took to his LinkedIn page on Dec. 23, 2022 to share the news.
“These are careful first steps that we will turn into giant leaps for our customers over the next number of years,” Carbon shared in a post on his personal LinkedIn account, accompanied by a picture of an Amazon drone dropping off a package. “Customers are our obsession, safety is our imperative, the future of delivery is our mandate, technology is unlocking that future and our people are the foundation that it all sits on! For all those who work at Prime Air…I humbly bow before you in thanks!!!”
Back in June 2022, Amazon promised that sometime “later this year, Amazon customers living in Lockeford, California, will become among the first to receive Prime Air deliveries.” About a month later, it added on College Station, Texas on its promise list.
And with just about a week left in 2022, Amazon delivered on its promise with some actual drone deliveries.
But even still, the deliveries are very small-scale tests, where residents will be able to sign up for free drone delivery on thousands of everyday items. Amazon’s drones don’t actually land in customer’s backyards, instead flying to a designated drone delivery location, descending over the yard, and hovering at “a safe height” so they can release the package before once again rising back up to altitude.
The latest design of Amazon drones deviates from the early quadcopter designs. This one is dubbed the MK27-2, and features a unique, hexagonal design which adds a bit of redundancy coupled with more stability. Amazon says that the propellers have been specifically designed to minimize high-frequency sound waves.
But sometime in 2024, Amazon is expected to rollout an even-more improved design called the MK30, which promises increased range, expanded temperature tolerance, safety-critical features, and new capability to fly in light rain.
Amazon is one of only a handful of drone delivery companies that has an air carrier certificate from the FAA. Other drone delivery companies that have FAA approval include Matternet, which in December 2022 received the first-ever FAA Production Certificate for a delivery drone, making Matternet the first (and currently only) company able to produce certified delivery drones in the U.S.
The other big players in drone delivery are Zipline and Wing, which are considered the (respectively) No. 1 and 2 biggest drone delivery companies in the world.
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