Amazon made it public knowledge that it was planning to launch a drone-powered delivery service a few years ago, and now we’re starting to see the idea become a reality as the company has announced (opens in new tab) its first successful drone delivery took place on December 7.
The Prime Air trial took place in Cambridge, England, with one of the company’s drones flying from the Cambridge fulfillment center to deliver a package. The entire process, from order to delivery, took only 13 minutes though obviously the speed is in part down to the fact that the customers taking part in the trial live close to the center.
The delivery process was filmed for a promotional video released by Amazon, showing a customer making an order on his tablet, which is then packaged by a human in the fulfillment center.
Once the order (popcorn and an Amazon Fire TV stick, in case you were wondering) has been placed in a box in the drone, the drone is moved along a conveyor belt, before taking off and autonomously making its way to the customer’s house guided by GPS.
The drone lands on a special landing pad at the customer’s house and once the delivery has been collected from the drone by the customer, it takes off again and makes its way back to the center.
Customers included in the trial will be able to order Prime Air deliveries seven days a week but they’ll be restricted to daylight hours and good weather conditions. Admittedly, winter seems like a less than ideal time for this.
The fulfillment center in Cambridge has been built specifically for Amazon’s drone deliveries and Amazon has built other similar centers in the US, Austria, and Israel so it’s possible we’ll see similarly limited testing begin in these locations in the near future.
According to Amazon, it will use the data and feedback gathered through these beta tests to expand its trials. At the moment the deliveries are only being made to two (yes, two) customers but Amazon intends to expand the service to “dozens” of others living near the Cambridge base soon. It’s likely to be a long time before we see the service expanded to more populated areas in the UK.
Amazon has similar custom-built fulfillment centers in the US, Austria, and Israel so it's likely that we'll see similar tests taking place in these locations soon. The company has said it'll have to work with regulators and policymakers in other countries before it'll be able to expand the service to even more territories.
That said, it’s exciting to see Amazon make progress with drone deliveries and if you want to see the trial for yourself, take a look at the video below.
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