Nearly three years ago, Amazon first talked about its plans of using little flying robots for delivering goods. It sounded audacious back then; but today, the company has proven that it was indeed nurturing this dream within all the while. Amazon today announced that it completed the first Amazon Prime Air Drone Powered delivery
The e-commerce giant recently started trialling in Cambridge, England to test waters. On December 7th, the first flight happened and is now recorded in history forever. The flight took 13 minutes from order to delivery. The drone set off from a custom built centre to the doorstep of a Richard B, carrying an Amazon Fire Streaming device and some Popcorn, covering a distance of two miles.
Amazon is currently providing the Prime Air services only to the few residents of the area around the Cambridge Fulfilment Centre. The centre has been custom designed to handle such orders. Once the ordered item is packaged, the drone is loaded and sent on a mission through a motorized track. It flies at 400 feet height and returns to the facility after delivery.
After what must have been rounds of experimentation and testing, the company seems to have settled for what seems to be a quadcopter, as we can see in the video released. It takes off and lands vertically. It is limited to carrying cargo weighing less than five pounds. The drones have cameras that search for identifying landing marker pads. Customers have to place these in the line of sight for the drone in an unobstructed location, such as their backyard.
We may soon receive news about expansion of this air delivery service as the company is actively getting ready to explore more options in the scenario. The Cambridge Beta Program is the first of a series; Prime Air Labs are also located in US, Austria and Israel says the Amazon Page. These locations will be tested out soon.
For the company, using drones might solve some of the expensive logistics problems on low cost items. Drones could also help in making our world greener by reducing our dependence on pollution belching means of transport. The biggest winners here would be us, the customers – we will be able to receive orders almost instantly, of course, depending on where we live.
The Amazon FAQ page provides a few answers to how this system works. For starters, it says that drones are only used in the daylight hours when it is sunny; snow, ice and rain would kick them down. The company also envisions to use its drones only in the low altitudes without disrupting the existing air transport systems.
Many of us still are skeptical about how far this will go before falling off – there are aviation rules, the ever changing weather and weight limitations for the cargo. Even now as the first drone has flied off, this seems hard to accept. But a few years ago, the words of Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos sounded like a joke – may be not long from now, these little courier carriers will become as common as the mail trucks on our roads. And amazon is not the first to test this out.
JD.com, the Chinese Internet Retailer, has a fleet of drone flyers to reach rural communities; they fly for 15 miles. Domino’s Pizza is testing drone deliveries in New Zealand. In the US, 7-Eleven delivered Slurpee’s and doughnuts to a customer. Google too tested drones by delivering Chipotle Burritos in the Virginia Tech Campus.
However, Amazon is the big brother with the logistical expertise and tech prowess that will likely push drones to the mainstream public.
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