Amazon’s long-awaited drone deliveries will become a reality this year using drones that can zoom along at 50 mph and climb to 400 feet.
Prime Air is set to begin deliveries in selected areas in northern California and Texas by the end of 2022 with what The Sun dubbed a “super drone.” However, deliveries must be less than 5 pounds.
The new drones can deliver packages to customers “in less than an hour, from click to delivery,” according to Amazon’s website.
Calsee Hendrickson, who leads product and program management for the Prime Air drone program, said Amazon has safety in mind as much as speed, according to CNBC.
“If the drone encounters another aircraft when it’s flying, it’ll fly around that other aircraft. If, when it gets to its delivery location, your dog runs underneath the drone, we won’t deliver the package,” she said.
— TechCrunch (@TechCrunch) November 10, 2022
Drone delivery for Amazon comes nearly a decade after company founder Jeff Bezos first announced it.
As the MK27-2 drone becomes ready to move from the lab to the real world, Hendrickson said the drones are safe.
“We like to refer to the drone as being independently safe, which means that it has the power to make the decision. It saw something that had a heat signature underneath the drone and was able to not deliver a package and return back to the station,” Hendrickson said.
“But the drones do have an operator in command that is overseeing the entire airspace.”
The drone is about 5 1/2 feet in diameter and weighs 80 pounds, Hendrickson said. The package it delivers has to fit into one box approximately the size of a shoe box.
As CNBC outlined the plan for deliveries, the six-propeller drone takes off vertically, then rotates to go forward with its hexagon frame serving the function of wings.
Upon arrival at its destination, it will drop the package from about 12 feet once it scans the ground to be sure nothing will get hit.
The drone has a range of about 7 1/2 miles per round trip, and customers don’t have to be home when the drone delivers their packages.
“We’ve made sure that all of those products are both capable of being OK when they are delivered, and our packaging, which is displayed behind me as well, is a special packaging that ensures that the integrity of the product is still intact after the delivery,” Hendrickson said.
“We’re now introducing our next generation delivery drone: the MK30. Due to come into service in 2024, this drone will be lighter and smaller than the MK27-2, the drone that will be making deliveries in Lockeford [California] and College Station [Texas],” Amazon wrote on its website.
Amazon unveiled a new, smaller drone capable of flying in the rain, the next step in its push to deliver light packages to customers in under an hour https://t.co/AqrkKyAsOb pic.twitter.com/SS0GbuKo6n
— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) November 10, 2022
“The MK30’s increased range, expanded temperature tolerance, safety-critical features, and new capability to fly in light rain will enable customers to choose drone delivery more often.
“Reducing the noise signature of our drones is an important engineering challenge that our team is working on. Our drones fly hundreds of feet in the air, well above people and structures. Even when they descend to deliver packages, our drones are generally quieter than a range of sounds you would commonly hear in a typical neighborhood.
“Still, Prime Air’s Flight Science team has created new custom-designed propellers that will reduce the MK30’s perceived noise by another 25%. That’s a game-changer, and we’re very excited about it,” Amazon said.