Amazon announced this week that they will begin delivering packages to customers using drones within months, according to the Financial Times.
Unveiled at a presentation during the robotics and space conference in Las Vegas (Re:Mars), Amazon’s electric delivery drone has a range of 15 miles and can deliver packages weighing up to five pounds to customers in under 30 minutes – which accounts for 75-90% of Amazon’s consumer deliveries, according to Jeff Wilke, head of Amazon’s consumer business.
“You’re going to see this new drone delivering packages to customers in months,” said Wilke, without elaborating.
“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,: Wilke said in a blog post that accompanied the conference announcement.
Drones will join an expanding fleet of Amazon’s delivery formats as the company takes greater control over its sprawling logistics network and looks to get items to customers more quickly and cheaply. In recent years it has invested in freight trailers, cargo planes and delivery vans, built out an extensive network of delivery hubs, and begun to experiment with autonomous vehicles for deliveries.
Earlier this year Amazon pledged to spend $800m in the second quarter cutting shipping times to one day for members of its Prime subscription programme in the US. –Financial Times
Amazon’s drone delivery program has been public knowledge since 2013, while the company tested its first delivery in a rural corner of England in December, 2016. It took 13 minutes from order to delivery, and had a similar 5 lb maximum constraint – which was quoted as constituting 87% of items sold.
The company’s new hexagonal drone takes off vertically but can fly like an airplane, which Business Insider likened to a Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter jet.
The drone can detect obstacles such as wires, chimneys and paragliders in real time – and can avoid them “using machine learning and advanced artificial intelligence,” according to Business Insider.
In March, UPS said that it had beaten Amazon to the first revenue-generating drone delivery in the US. UPS is using Matternet’s M2 quadcopter, which is designed to carry payloads up to 5 lbs. over a distance of approximately 12 to 13 miles (weather dependent).
Expect the constant sound of drones buzzing around our formerly quiet skies. Maybe you can have some earplugs delivered in 30 minutes or less?