Amazon is always one step ahead: drones will ship items in record times

Is it difficult to imagine making an online purchase and that, within minutes, it will literally fall out of the sky? Soon there will be no need to imagine it, because we will see it with our own eyes. Amazon Prime subscribers will in fact soon be able to receive orders in less than 30 minutes from the purchase, and that will be delivered by drones instead of real couriers.

The e-commerce giant has been trying for a long time to become more independent and to get rid of external collaborators such as FedEx, UPS and postal services couriers, to reduce costs and speed up shipments. Last year, Amazon announced the start of air cargo operations in Europe through aircraft of its airline Amazon Air, taking a first step towards independence. The most appealing news for tech and innovation lovers, however, is probably that concerning the Amazon Prime Air project, which involves the use of drones to make flash shipments.

Jeff Bezos himself revealed the plans for the project in 2013, during an interview with the American news magazine broadcast 60 Minutes. After years of tests, prototypes and negotiations with the Federal Aviation Administration to get the necessary permits that would allow the drones to take off, the richest man in the world’s futuristic dream will finally come true. Last August, in fact, the FAA issued the certification that recognizes drones as unmanned aerial vehicles, thus concretely allowing the start of the service in the United States.

The new “couriers” will fly at low altitudes, between 200 ft and 500 ft, they weigh up to 55 lb and will make deliveries within a 10 miles radius of its warehouses. This shipping method will be possible only for packages weighing up to 5 lb, a number that does not seem to have much impact on the success of the project, given that, according to Bezos reports, 86% of packages sent by the company fall within this target. 

The drones will be loaded inside the warehouse and then a roller will transport them to the area designated for take-off. From there they will be remotely controlled from an Amazon Prime Air control unit and will take the purchase made shortly before directly to the customer’s home. “ It may sound like science fiction, but it’s real. Putting the system into service will take some time, but one day, seeing Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road” you can read on Amazon website.  

The first delivery was already made on 7 December 2016 in Cambridge, England. It only lasted 13 minutes and it was recorded and then posted in a video on YouTube. 

In order for the service to be active in all respects, there are still some regulatory and bureaucratic issues to overcome, but we are not far from the goal. Amazon Vice President David Carbon explained: “We will continue to develop and refine our technology to fully integrate delivery drones into the airspace, and work closely with the FAA and other regulators around the world to realize our vision of 30 minute delivery”.

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