In 2013, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced that the company would be exploring the concept of "drone delivery" to project the way of delivering packages far into the future. Since then, Amazon has made huge leaps of progress with drones, with the goal of making their latest creation, “Prime Air” delivery service, a readily accessible and available way for people to order commercial goods in real time. Even though there is still no set date for when we will see these drones coasting the skies above us, a lot of developments are underway. Here’s what we know so far: 

1. The Drones Have Landed

At the end of last year, Amazon successfully completed its first drone delivery in Cambridge, England, in only 13 minutes. The orders are packaged in a fulfillment center, moved on a conveyer belt, and loaded onto a drone, which then flies off using GPS towards the purchaser’s house. Amazon is aiming to expand its drone capabilities locations to make receiving Prime Air purchases quick and efficient, with delivery in under 30 minutes.

2. There Are Limitations

The Amazon drones are still in preliminary stages of delivery because the packages must be under five pounds for a controlled transfer, and the drones that Amazon has been using are unable to fly faster than 50 mph or higher than 400 feet or because of current battery technology. There are, however, some benefits for these low-flying drones, because it is an airspace that is almost completely unoccupied across the country, which would make the perfect shipping route for these drones to use.

3. The Drone Patent

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Amazon a patent for a method to get packages safely from the drones to their destinations. The team is currently researching and testing various methods for efficient and secure ways to deliver packages from the drones hovering above. The theory behind the patent is that keeping the drones in the sky will lead to less mistakes, more secure packages, and less time and energy from drones.

4. Drones in America

Only a few weeks ago, Amazon completed its first public demonstration of the drone prototype in the United States. Even though New Zealand might be a step ahead having Domino’s pizzas flown around the country, the MARS 2017 conference gave America an exclusive glimpse into the excitement to come. While the Amazon drone delivery project has been in the works for years, the Federal Aviation Administration is proceeding with caution about flying logistics and security.

Foreseeable Problems

Like any other revolutionary discovery, the drones will see some obstacles arise that Amazon and other companies will have to factor in when changing the way that we send and receive packages. For example, theft might increase because packages will be visible to more individuals during its travel, rather than being concealed by a truck or plane.

There will presumably be more intercepted packages if the drone accidentally drops a package in the wrong location or drops it on the way to its destination. Likewise, there is an anticipatable issue with foul weather. Especially here in New England, a day can go from being sunny and clear to rainy and ominous in a matter of minutes. GPS systems could be muddled, drones could be blown off-course, packages could be ruined with the rain, etc.

It will be an extremely interesting journey watching Amazon tackle these anticipated obstacles. Being one of the largest, most successful companies in the world, Amazon’s determined team will undoubtedly rise to the occasion and bring these Prime Air deliveries to life.  

Looking to the Future

The longest wait in the world is the one you endure when you order something online and must suffer through the days until its arrival in the mail. Those inconvenient moments, like when your headphones break just before a run, will (hopefully) be a thing of the past.

Even though Amazon is notoriously private about its plans, it did tease the possibility of drone delivery during a commercial that appeared on the Superbowl this year. Through a light-hearted, yet drastically effective ten-second ad about refilling an empty bag of Doritos, the Amazon drone delivery makes a momentary entrance. Even though there is no set date that we should expect to see the sky buzzing with activity, this commercial suggests it could be sooner than we would think.

Regardless of when Amazon straightens out the details, delivery drones are only a few years away from buzzing about the skies above us. 

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