Amazon has started drone delivery tests in several new locations in California and Texas.
David Carbon, Vice President of Prime Air Amazon, announced the development on LinkedIn. His post includes a photo (below) showing one of his drones carrying a small box at the end of a tether.
“First deliveries from our new sites in Texas and California,” Carbon wrote in his post. “Couldn’t be more proud of the amazing people who make up Prime Air. These are careful first steps we’ll take to make giant leaps for our customers in the years to come.
Carbon added that “customers are our obsession, safety is our imperative, the future of delivery is our mandate, technology unlocks that future, and our people are the foundation on which it all rests.”
Amazon has been developing its drone delivery service since 2013. The autonomous plane at the center of the platform has gone through many designs over the past decade, with each one improving on the last as the e-commerce giant tries to convince regulators that its flying . Machine is capable of safe and reliable operation. The company is set to launch its latest aircraft design – with improved durability and a range beyond the current nine miles – in 2024.
With rules for commercial drone flights still quite strict, Amazon and other leaders in the industry such as Alphabet-owned Wing have operated pilot schemes such as those that have just been launched in California and Texas.
Select customers can use a smartphone app to order small items online in the usual way. A drone is then charged and sent to the customer’s address. Upon arrival, the ordered product is lowered to the floor with an extendable tether.
The use of drones can help speed up last-mile delivery services, especially in urban areas where road traffic slows things down. The electric flying machines can also help to reduce carbon emissions.
But the drones must be robust enough to handle adverse weather conditions, or deliveries may be delayed if there is no road vehicle available to make the journey. The machines can also be noisy, causing annoyance to people living under their flight path. With that in mind, manufacturers of commercial delivery drones have been working to create quieter aircraft to keep the peace.