Amazon expands US drone delivery network and launches in the UK and Italy

Amazon customers in the UK, Italy and an additional US city will soon have the option to get their packages delivered by a drone beginning in late 2024, says the company press release. The Prime Air drone delivery system is expanding to international locations, and adding a third city in the United States by the end of next year— specific cities in the US and abroad will be named in the coming months. The company’s existing drone delivery operations in the US deliver packages weighing up to five pounds in one hour or less, for the past year.

In addition to the new delivery sites, Prime Air is unveiling the new MK30 drone design, which is quieter, smaller, and lighter, than previous models. We’re also announcing that drone deliveries will be integrating into Amazon’s delivery network, meaning drones will deploy from some Same-Day Delivery sites. In Italy and the UK, we will start integrating into some of our fulfilment centres, which will provide Amazon customers with faster delivery of an even greater selection of items. We will start with one site in each location and expand over time.

Details on the expansion, the new drone design, and the integration of drone deliveries into Amazon’s fulfilment network are set out by Amazon as follows:

“We are working closely with national and international regulators, and communities in the EU, Italy, the UK, and the U.S., to develop this programme. We have committed the necessary time and resources to build a safe and scalable service. We have refined the technology, and are now building the right infrastructure to ensure the service provides the ultimate convenience for our customers. We’ve also taken great care to ensure that our drone design philosophy and demonstrated levels of safety are setting a higher bar for safety across the commercial drone delivery industry, working closely with regulators to design to the highest standard set within those regulations.

“We expect drone delivery to take flight in all three new locations by the end of 2024. Once available, eligible Amazon customers can opt in to drone delivery and choose from thousands of items that weigh five pounds or less—including household products, everyday essentials, beauty items, and office/tech supplies. More details on the cities to come.

“Our newest drone, the MK30, is unlike any other drone. The new design can fly twice as far as previous Prime Air drone models, which will allow us to deliver to customers who live farther out from our fulfilment networks. The MK30 is quieter and will be able to fly in more diverse weather conditions—meaning customers can get super speedy deliveries even in situations like light rain, and hotter and colder temperatures. Our drones have a unique package delivery system, where packages are held inside drones during transit to protect their contents.

“Like previous models, the MK30 will operate safely and autonomously, and are equipped with sense and avoid technology, which allows the drone to identify and avoid obstacles in the delivery area. The beauty of this system is it can sense and avoid objects that weren’t there the day before, for example, a freshly planted tree, or mobile crane moved into its path.

“Drone delivery will no longer only take place out of stand-alone Prime Air Delivery Centres, like those in Lockeford, California and College Station, Texas. Moving forward, we will integrate drones into the Amazon delivery network, so customers will have traditional delivery vans, Flex delivery vehicles, and Prime Air drones leaving from the same building.

“In the US, the drones will operate out of some Same-Day Delivery stations, which are essentially smaller versions of our fulfilment centres that process orders for delivery on the same day they were purchased. These sites offer a selection of products that are well aligned with things customers want and need fast, and what drones can safely deliver. Think of products that fit the size and weight capabilities of the drone – like cold medicines and batteries – we place them close to customers at these sites, which enables us to deliver them at our fastest speeds, and now it makes sense to make deliveries even faster via drones.”

David Carbon, Vice President of Amazon’s Prime Air, said: “As part of our continued efforts to innovate for customers, we are excited to announce the expansion of Prime Air delivery internationally, for the first time outside the US. We have been delivering packages by drone for almost a year in California and in Texas. We have built a safe, reliable delivery service and have partnered very closely with regulators and communities. We will continue with that collaboration into the future to ensure we are meeting the needs of our customers and the communities we serve.”

UK Aviation Minister, Baroness Vere, said: “Amazon’s announcement today is a fantastic example of Government and industry coming together to achieve our shared vision for commercial drones to be commonplace in the UK by 2030. Not only will this help boost the economy, offering consumers even more choice while helping keep the environment clean with zero emission technology, but it will also build our understanding how to best use the new technology safely and securely.”

(Image: MK30)

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