Amazon has been in the process of developing a drone-based delivery system for some time now, and those efforts are just beginning to bear fruit. The company just completed its very first drone delivery a few days ago, as part of an extremely limited closed beta test, and it appears that everything went just as planned.
The delivery, which included an Amazon Fire TV (shocker) and some popcorn (?) was carried out in Cambridgeshire, England. The customer — one Richard B. — placed the order via tablet and was able to take delivery of his package just 30 minutes later. That’s a pretty remarkable feat, and Amazon used the delivery as an opportunity to create a neat little video showing exactly how the process works.
The drones are sent from a special “Prime Air” fulfillment center, where Amazon employees pick and pack the items and then hand the package off to the automated delivery system. The package, which must weigh less than five pounds, for obvious reasons, is attached to an Amazon drone and then sent out to the launchpad via an automated track system.
The drone takes to the skies and then lands at the appropriate destination, which is marked with a special symbol. It then lands, detaches the box, and heads back to the Amazon center. The customer can then grab the package and enjoy whatever it is they ordered.
It all looks pretty slick, but there are some pretty obvious limitations here. From the meager weight limit to the possibility of bad weather grounding the drones, it’s clear that Prime Air has a long way to go before it’s a common delivery option. At present, the service is available to just two — yes, two — customers. Amazon promises “dozens” more participants in the months to come, with a goal of “hundreds” on the horizon.
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