Despite encountering obstacles in the US, Amazon plans to expand its Prime Air drone delivery program to two more countries. Amazon Announced today that it will soon make drone delivery available to Prime members in Italy and the United Kingdom, as well as expanding to another yet-to-be-named U.S. city. The new Prime Air locations will be announced in the coming months, with a planned launch date of late 2024.
The e-commerce giant said it is working with regulators and governments around the world to expand drone delivery.
“Not only will this help boost the economy, giving consumers even more choice while helping to keep the environment clean with zero-emission technology, but it will also help understand how to best use new technology safely,” said UK Aviation Minister Baroness. See in a statement in the Amazon announcement.
Amazon first promised 30-minute drone deliveries for Prime members back in 2013, and the program has encountered nothing but obstacles. Currently, the company only offers Prime Air delivery in two Locations: College Station, Texas and Lockeford, California. Currently, Amazon drones cannot make deliveries during storms, high winds, extreme heat, or any unfavorable weather, and only operate from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily. Current FAA restrictions also prevent Prime Air from flying its drones over people or roads, leading to Amazon’s next challenge. To gain FAA approval for broader deployment in the US, Prime Air must dock hundreds of hours of flights without incident. But since Prime Air is currently operating under limited circumstances, it has had trouble meeting the agency’s requirements. In May of this year, Prime Air had only made 100 deliveries, CNBC reported.
But since then there has been some progress. Prime Air has signed up “thousands of customers” and delivered “thousands” of packages so far, Amazon spokesperson Zoë Hoffmann wrote in an email to The edge.
Another move by Amazon today suggests it’s ready to make drones a more serious part of its actual delivery network. The company said it plans to add Prime Air delivery to its existing fulfillment network, specifically adding delivery drones to some of its same delivery sites. Prime Air drones currently only operate from two independent sites in Texas and California, so expanding the drones to other sites means a wider delivery range and tighter integration with Amazon’s delivery network.
“In the future, we will integrate drones into Amazon’s delivery network, so customers will have traditional delivery vans, Flex delivery vehicles, and Prime Air drones leaving from the same building,” the company wrote in its announcement.
Even more critically, the drones will be able to operate in light rain and what Amazon calls more “diverse weather.”
Amazon also gave us a sneak peek at its new Prime Air delivery drone, which it claims flies twice as far as its current model. Even more critically, the drones will be able to operate in light rain and what Amazon calls more “diverse weather.” The company released Photos of today’s MK30 drone, which it said will replace its existing delivery drones by the end of 2024.
The MK30 is also smaller and quieter than the existing Prime Air model, Amazon claims. The new drone can deliver objects up to five pounds, with a typical delivery time of “one hour or less.” The new drone includes a “sense and avoid” feature that can help you avoid pets, people, and property. The new design is expected to result in smoother flights. As CNBC reported, Prime Air drones have had multiple It collapses as the years go by.