The future is here, folks. Not that any of us drone pilots, aficionados, and fans are all that surprised—in fact, many of us thought this day might come even sooner than it has.
But we will admit, now that the day has finally arrived there is a feeling of surreality about the whole thing. Just think about it: a flying robot has delivered a package to someone’s house. (Wait, wait—anyone remember Skynet? Just kidding!).
Seriously though, this is a monumental moment, and a milestone to be celebrated by the sUAS industry at large. We are of course talking about Amazon’s recent announcement that they have made their first successful drone delivery via Amazon Prime Air.
Way back in December of 2013 Amazon announced the launch of Prime Air, and we wrote about how Prime Air was shaping up to be a new disrupter in the delivery industry in general, in large part because drone deliveries are so much cheaper than any alternate method for making deliveries.
Well, the day has finally arrived. Check out the video below if you’d like to watch the first Amazon Prime Air test delivery, or scroll down to learn more about the details.
The first drone delivery was done not in the United States, but in the United Kingdom last week. This first test delivery took place near Amazon’s drone testing facility in Cambridgeshire.
According to USA Today, “The test was done with the approval of Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority, which Amazon says plans to allow it to deliver to rural areas once it has amassed sufficient safety data.”
The ultimate goal is to deliver packages of up to five pounds in 30 minutes or less. The test took place on December 7, and was a delivery of an Amazon Fire stick and bag of popcorn—the delivery was there in just 13 minutes. Add to that the fact that Amazon has stated they don’t plan to charge extra for the service. Pretty darn neat, if we don’t say so ourselves.
What about the U.S.?
Amazon received approval from the FAA to test drone delivery back in April of 2015, but has yet to begin actual test flights like the one just completed in the U.K. It can be expected that the tests and data collected in the U.K. will inform, and probably accelerate, the testing process and eventual implementation of the service here in the United States.
Of course, as exciting as this recent announcement is, actual drone delivery is probably still years away. Although the technology may be capable, Amazon will have to test and demonstrate the ability to scale safely before the U.K, the U.S., or other governments will allow them to fully launch their delivery service.
But nonetheless, this is one more big step forward for the sUAS industry, and one we can all be excited about. Of course, startups like Zipline have already been breaking into the drone delivery business by building drones to deliver medical supplies to remote areas, but the idea of having a drone that comes straight to your door with a bag of popcorn, well, that is a different kettle of fish.
Can’t get enough? Here’s a video from CNN on Amazon’s Prime Air delivery service.