has some big plans for its drone delivery program, including an international expansion to the UK and Italy in 2024. The company also to start drone operations in a third US city next year, following existing efforts in College Station, Texas (where it just started ) and Lockeford, California.
Drone deliveries in the UK and Italy will start at one site each before expanding to more locations over time. Amazon says it will announce the specific locations for the US, UK and Italy expansion in the coming months.
Moreover, Amazon will integrate the program into its delivery network. In the US, drones will run out of some Same-Day Delivery sites. By basing drones at those locations and its larger fulfillment centers in the UK and Italy, Amazon says customers can choose from a wider range of items for drone deliveries. Until now, Amazon has been using dedicated delivery centers at its first two Prime Air locations.
When the option is available in their area and they buy an eligible item that weighs under five pounds, Amazon customers can choose to have the product delivered by drone. Thousands of items are eligible for drone delivery, including office and tech supplies, household products and beauty items. The company notes that, for nearly a year, it’s been using drones to deliver items to customers in its first two Prime Air locations in an hour or less.
Reports earlier this year suggested that Prime Air , delivering to just a handful of homes in its first few weeks of operation in Texas and California (the program is said to have been around that time too). Regulatory red-tape was said to be a key reason for the lackluster debut. To that end, Amazon says it has been “working closely with regulators and governments around the world to expand drone delivery.”
Meanwhile, Amazon plans to start making deliveries with the MK30 drone . This model has a range that’s twice as large as previous drones, while it has improved tolerance for higher and lower temperatures. The MK30 can also operate in light rain. It’s smaller, lighter and quieter than previous drones too, according to Amazon.
What’s more, the MK30 latest model is said to be capable of identifying and avoiding obstacles that are in its delivery area, including objects like moveable cranes that weren’t there the previous day. One other intriguing aspect of the MK30 is . After taking off vertically, it orientates itself for horizontal, wing-borne flight. Add all of that up (and roll in some safety features), and Amazon says the MK30 can deliver packages to folks who live in more densely populated suburban areas and have smaller backyards.