David Carbon, vice president of Prime Air Amazon, announced the development on LinkedIn. His post included a photo (below) showing one of his drones with a small box attached to the end of a chain.
“First deliveries from our new locations in Texas and California,” Carbon wrote in his post. “Couldn’t be more proud of the amazing people that make up Prime Air. These are careful first steps that we will take in great leaps for our customers in the coming years.”
Carbon added: “Customers are our obsession, safety is our necessity, the future of delivery is our mandate, technology unlocks that future and our people are the foundation upon which it all rests.”
Amazon has been developing its drone delivery service since 2013. The autonomous plane at the center of the platform has undergone many designs over the past decade, with each plane better than the last as the e-commerce giant tries to convince regulators that the flying machine is able to work safely and reliably. The company is about to launch the latest aircraft design – with improved durability and a range of more than the current nine miles – in 2024.
With regulations on commercial drone flights still quite strict, Amazon and other industry leaders such as Alphabet-owned Wing have been conducting pilot projects like the one just launched in California and Texas.
Selected customers can order small items online in the usual way via a smartphone app. A drone is then loaded and sent to the customer’s address. Upon arrival, the ordered product is lowered to the floor with an extendable chain.
The use of drones can help speed up last mile delivery services, especially in urban areas where road traffic can slow things down. The electric flying machines can also help reduce CO2 emissions.
But the drones must be robust enough to handle adverse weather conditions, or deliveries could be delayed if no road vehicle is available to make the journey. The machines can also be noisy, causing irritation to people living below their flight path. Makers of commercial delivery drones have been with that in mind working on quieter aircraft in an effort to keep the peace.