Ever since Amazon first announced the concept of drone delivery in 2013, somebody – somewhere – has asked when the holiday gifts would be delivered by drone. This holiday season was the one, as Amazon drone delivery begins in two US communities as of last Friday.
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Now, Prime Air Amazon drone delivery begins in Lockeford, CA and College Station, TX as Walmart announces their drone delivery program will expand to six states, and Alphabet’s Wing has been at work in Australia and the US. Flytrex is partnering with retailers in multiple states to offer drone delivery. Walmart, Wing, and Flytrex however, are primarily deliveries from brick and mortar retail stores: they work much like a traditional ground-based delivery service does, choosing an item that exists on the shelves from an app and selecting the delivery mode, but with drones.
Amazon’s goal is to deliver 5 pounds or less packages in under an hour. While most company announcements have focused on Amazon’s aircraft – equipped with sense-and-avoid, developed for energy efficiency and safety – the need to bring Amazon’s products closer to their customer base is also a major piece of an efficient delivery program. Amazon says that they’ve made major investments in logistics, which could indicate that smaller, more distributed warehouses will become more common.
The delivery mechanism is based on Amazon’s already ubiquitous online ordering system: eligible customers will simply have an additional choice for shipping when they order items from the app or site. “For these deliveries, the drone will fly to the designated delivery location, descend to the customer’s backyard, and hover at a safe height. It will then safely release the package and rise back up to altitude,” says Amazon.
It’s been a long wait for Amazon delivery, but as the holiday season – with its ubiquitous Amazon trucks – draws to a close, the start of Prime Air may signal a shift in retail delivery across the globe.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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