Amazon’s Prime Air drone parcel delivery service has been approved by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to test autonomous delivery drones.
Amazon Prime Air completed its first fully autonomous drone delivery as far back as 7 December 2016 and describes the service as “a future delivery system from Amazon designed to safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles, also called drones”.
Since those early tests, Amazon Prime Air has been building and testing drones and the necessary technology at its development centres in the US, UK, Austria, France, and Israel.
Amazon acknowledges that although it has now been approved by the FAA for autonomous test flights, it will not be able to deploy the drones as a delivery option for customers until it has the regulatory support in the countries and areas that it wants to operate.
Drone Design Unveiled
Back in June 2019 at Amazon’s re:MARS Conference (Machine Learning, Automation, Robotics and Space) in Las Vegas, the company unveiled its latest Prime Air drone design which was reported to have advances in efficiency, stability and safety. The hybrid drone design could do vertical take-offs and landings and could easily transition between this and ‘airplane mode’ to enable it to efficiently cover distances of up to 15 miles to deliver packages under five pounds to customers.
Others – Including Alphabet (Google)
Amazon Prime Air Joins Alphabet Inc’s unit Wing and United Parcel Service Inc as recipients of FAA approval for drone delivery.
Alphabet Inc.’s Wing service, for example, was approved in the U.S. by the federal government last October and has been offering parcel delivery by drone in a limited test area around Christiansburg, Virginia. During the pandemic, Alphabet’s drone deliveries doubled in test areas in the U.S. and Australia. Alphabet’s Wing also has a drone delivery service in the Vuosaari district of Helsinki in Finland and in Canberra, Australia where it delivers goods from a variety of vendors including Mitchell Supermarket, Krofne Donuts and even Drummond Golf (golf balls, tees and gloves).
Live Organ Delivered By Drone
The potential for done delivery was shown to be wider than simply parcels back in May 2019 when a human kidney for transplant was delivered by drone to a Medical Centre in Baltimore in the first delivery flight of its kind. The drone transportation of the living organ over a one-mile journey used cutting-edge technology in the form of an AI-powered drone that had been specifically designed to maintain and monitor the organ during the journey.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
Drone deliveries offer huge potential and opportunities for businesses trying to offer customers speedy delivery, sometimes to difficult-to-reach locations at a time when our roads are often congested, particularly in urban areas.
Drones also proved their worth during the pandemic lockdown where Alphabet’s drone service, in partnership with local businesses and Virginia Tech was able to make safe, essential local food and medical deliveries to those people unable to go out.
With approval from bodies such as the FAA, and with the right regulations in place and partnerships with businesses and other organisations, the scale and scope of drone deliveries can be tested and realised in a way that can add value and provide a competitive edge to all kinds of businesses and organisations that need to deliver goods and other items very quickly.