Amazon Prime Air: Drone Delivery Service Completes First Successful Operation

Three years after Amazon CEO stated that drones would start delivering packages to customers around the world, the e-commerce giant has successfully completed its maiden test voyage of the service, now christened Amazon Air Prime. The delivery was completed on December 7 in the city of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, which is the hub of Amazon’s drone testing facilities. The package which was delivered consisted of an Amazon Fire TV and a bag of popcorn which weigh less than one kilo combined and is far less than the mandated maximum limit of 2.26kg. The entire process took 13 minutes.

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What is Amazon Prime Air?

Amazon Prime Air is the last-mile drone-assisted delivery of goods as part of the Amazon Prime experience. Amazon Prime is a membership program that gives customers access to streaming video and music, ebooks, free shipping with guaranteed two-day shipping all for $99 every year. The drone service is devised to provide a delivery time of 30 minutes or less. This is not so much as a marketing gimmick as it is an efficient way to harness modern UAV technology to deliver goods and satisfy customers. Amazon Prime Air completed the 30-minute deliveries in Canada and recently in India.  The aforementioned delivery in Cambridge is under a permit granted by the British Civil Aviation Authority.

How will Amazon Prime Air work and who qualifies for the service?

Amazon has elaborated little. Speculation suggests that customers will have to use the service during option during checkout a la two-day shopping. Next, the customer prints a QR code supplied by Amazon, and stick it on a surface outside their residence. The QR code acts like a beacon, which enables the drone to find and land safely. Rain, snow, fog and adverse air conditions will prevent delivery. The drones fly below 400 feet. To qualify for the 30-minute delivery deadline, the order must be less than 2.26kg and fit inside a small box, whose dimensions are unknown. The recipient must be within a 10-mile radius of an Amazon centre.

The Future of Drones in e-commerce

The Prime Air Drone seen above is an octocopter with eight rotors. It weighed 25kg and could carry up to 2.26kg at speeds of 80kph. Amazon has two variants of the drones, one with no fixed wings. With relatively high load by weight ratio, the drones may prove a popular option to retailer over the world. The e-commerce industry is customer-centric and everyone likes to have their own deliveries prioritised. With more and more services becoming premium ones, these UAVs are set to revolutionise the industry. Moreover, drones are becoming less expensive with passing time. Amazon boss Jeff Bezos is clearly excited.

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