Sunday, March 18, 2012

Amazon’s First Customer Drone Delivery Completed

Amazon GPS drone delivery

This is one of Amazon’s early drone prototypes, but not the kind which made the most recent delivery.

Drone delivery has been on the horizon for a couple years now, and it’s no secret that Amazon has been the front runner for this futuristic convenience. As officials here in the United States have not been overly willing to let drone deliveries go through, Amazon moved its operations and testing grounds abroad and it looks like we’re finally starting to see results.

This month marks Amazon’s first commercial drone delivery to a customer. According to ReCode, the delivery took place on December 7, and consisted of an Amazon Fire TV and a bag of popcorn. The customer, who lives near the testing facility in Cambridge, England, received his package about 13 minutes after the order was placed.

Here’s a video of the delivery from Amazon:

As you can see in the above video, the process is extremely automated, all the way to the box being loaded robotically and the drone flying to and from the location. UK laws state that an operator must be standing by in case of emergency, but the automation is pretty neat to see, regardless. One thing I noticed is that the customer had apparently put out a landing pad for the drone to hone in on, which makes a lot more sense than some of the earlier tests which had it just hovering and dropping a box in your grass.

Currently, Amazon is only delivering to two customers who live near the testing facility, with plans to expand to nearby customers soon. There is no say on when (or even if) the company plans on expanding this to the United States, where strict laws regarding drones operating within line of sight would make the kinds of deliveries Amazon wants to do nearly impossible.

Of course, while this is the first drone delivery by Amazon, it’s far from the first commercial drone delivery. The Australian company Flirtey beat Amazon with a delivery via drone in July in Reno, NV. There have been a handful of other deliveries as well, including Google’s experiment dropping off burritos via drones to students at Virginia Tech last year.

There has been some talk on the internet of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and others planning on working with the new presidential administration in order to relax the drone laws, but I haven’t seen anything reputable enough to make me convinced this will actually happen. I guess for now we’ll just have to watch and see where things go.

So, if you could have Amazon deliver  something by drone to your home, would you do it? Give me your thoughts in the comments below!


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