From now on, in addition to many other things, the insatiable Amazon is also an airline. Specifically it is its subsidiary Prime Air, created in 2013 to be able to make deliveries through drones. With the license granted this week by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Amazon is back in the race to lead this new branch of the parcel business after Wing (owned by Alphabet, the parent company of Google) and UPS will already achieve accreditations to operate in the United States using commercial unmanned aircraft.
Despite already having all the necessary permits, Jeff Bezos’ company will not yet be able to begin making deliveries through this system because, as she herself has recognized, her fleet of drones is not yet ready. And that Amazon already obtained in 2015 the license to start the tests and in June of last year the undisputed star of the first edition of the corporate technology conference re: MARS was the new device equipped with artificial intelligence, which according to the CEO of First Air, Jeff Wilke, would begin operating “in the next few months.” So far what they have already done is separate the leased aircraft fleet from this new line of business to cargo airlines, which already operates under the Amazon Air brand and for which they are building their own airport in Cincinnati (Ohio).
The new model of drone can travel distances of up to 24 kilometers (the previous model only traveled 16) carrying packages of up to 2.3 kilograms at a maximum height of 121.92 meters (400 feet) and avoiding obstacles such as power lines, birds, trees or clotheslines thanks to its cameras and sensors and the use of artificial intelligence. In addition, by improving the ‘prime’ delivery service, this system would help Amazon reduce the carbon emissions of its shipments by at least 50% by 2030.
According to the company itself, to achieve the accreditation that allows it to operate its devices, they have had to pass more than five hundred security tests. For now, however, the only test of delivery in an open space that has transpired is the one carried out in Cambridge (England) in December 2016, still with the first drone model. In that essay, the client received in the garden of his house a Fire TV device (a USB that connects to the TV to watch programs that are broadcast in ‘streaming’) and a package of popcorn just thirteen minutes after having made the order.
For the moment, the license only allows the company to operate in good weather conditions and in areas with low population density, so its presence will be limited to rural areas or residential environments on the outskirts of large cities near any of the Amazon fulfillment centers. At least to the terrestrial ones, because we must not forget that in 2016 the company applied for the patent of what it called ‘unmanned aerial vehicle air fulfillment center for item delivery‘and that it would be a kind of zeppelin with a basket in which the drones would collect the packages that would have to be delivered in the vicinity.