Modern Retail

Prime Air: the revolutionary delivery drone

Amazon Prime Air

Amazon’s future delivery system, Prime Air, is designed to safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less, using state-of-the-art technology. While it may be a while before we see it used on a mass scale, we take a look at this innovative solution to automated delivery.

How does Prime Air Work?

After receiving an order, a drone is loaded with the customer’s package, making its way out of the warehouse and guiding itself to the customer’s delivery location using GPS. Operating completely autonomously, it uses ‘sense and avoid’ technology to prevent contact with any obstacles. The customer receives a notification when their delivery is on its way, telling them when it will arrive. When the Prime Air drone reaches its location, it scans the landing area for potential hazards, lowers to the ground, drops the package off and flies straight back to altitude to return to the warehouse.

Prime Air retail delivery

Safety and environmental impact

Safety was a major question surrounding the idea of a delivery drone, however Amazon seems to have found the solution to this. Combining diverse sensors and sophisticated machine learning algorithms, the drones are able to prevent collisions and identify flight environment changes.

In terms of the environmental impact, Prime Air could play an important role in making 50% of all Amazon shipments net zero by 2030. These drones are powered by electricity and charged using sustainable means, saving on fuel usage and reducing emissions.

When can we expect to see Prime Air?

Prime Air is still in the trial phase, however the initial trial in Cambridge was a resounding success, suggesting it may not be too much longer before we see Prime Air drones being used more often. Amazon is working to gather data to continue improving the safety and reliability of their systems and operations, with the goal of building more aircraft in the near future.

Prime Air facts

  • Packages for Prime Air can weigh up to 5lb
  • Prime Air aircraft travel at nearly 400 feet
  • There are Prime Air development centres in the UK, United States, Austria, France and Israel

Click here to read more from Modern Retail’s June 2021 Guide to Fulfilment.

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Holly Worthington

Holly brings a wealth of experience in both print and digital publishing. As Modern Retail's Content Editor, Holly is passionate about helping independent retailers to thrive in today's ever-changing market.