Almost 10 years after Amazon first announced it would deliver goods by drone, the time has finally come. In a test run, customers in Lockeford, California, are being delivered by drones thanks to Amazon Prime Air. Wing Aviation achieved something similar in the US back in 2019.
Amazon Prime Air test run launches
“The promise of drone delivery has often felt like science fiction. We’ve been working for nearly a decade to make it a reality,” the shipping giant writes in the announcement of the Amazon Prime Air test run.
Until then, however, it was a long way. Back in 2013, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos unveiled initial plans for drone delivery, but technical setbacks pushed them into the distant future. Now, almost nine years later, the time has finally come.
The challenge, according to Amazon, was to deliver ordered goods to customers quickly, cost-effectively and safely in less than an hour. With the help of existing technology, this was no problem with light loads over short distances within sight. As a network over long distances, on the other hand, it was a real challenge to set up, he said.
According to the company’s own statement, hundreds of scientists, engineers and aviation professionals worked hard on the Amazon Prime Air project, which is scheduled for testing later in 2022 in Lockeford, California. The test serves as a pilot project in which residents can (and should) participate with their feedback.
At the same time, Amazon wants to create new jobs in the village of 3,500 people, work together with local organizations and invest in the community. In this way, everyone involved benefits from the project. And it would also do something for the environment by reducing carbon emissions.
Sense-and-Avoid for Added Safety
A sense-and-avoid system is intended to provide additional safety for Amazon Prime Air drones. This allows the flying objects to safely avoid other flying devices or objects. According to the mail-order company, this enables flight operations without direct visual contact of the pilot.
At the same time, this is said to be able to increase the range while the drones detect various static obstacles such as houses or chimneys and moving objects such as people, animals or other flying devices.
Once obstacles are detected, the drones automatically adjust their flight path and alter their route to fly around the objects or people, Amazon promises. In addition, since packages are to be delivered to customers’ backyards via Amazon Prime Air, the drones automatically ensure that there is enough space in the landing zone and that there are no people, animals or other objects in the way.
MK27-2 drone with six motors
More than two dozen prototypes were built and tested for the project until the final dimensions and details of the drone for Amazon Prime Air were found, he said. The MK27-2 came out in the end. A drone with a hexagonal design that is equipped with six motors. The propellers are also said to operate particularly quietly.
The company also worked closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Amazon is one of only three companies to receive the FAA air carrier certificate, which is required to use drones with such advanced technology in the United States.
As part of the Amazon Prime Air test, customers are supposed to place their orders normally and then receive an estimated delivery time, including a status tracker. The drone will then fly to the address, descend in the backyard and hover close to the ground to deliver the goods and then make its journey home.
Once the test run is underway, Amazon plans to follow up with more photos and videos. Let’s just hope that nothing goes wrong this time. Just recently, the company announced that its in-house delivery service Amazon Flex would be discontinued.