Amazon has some big plans for its drone delivery program, including an international expansion to the UK and Italy in 2024, Engadget reported. The company aims to start drone operations in a third US city next year, following existing efforts in College Station, Texas (where it just started offering prescription medication delivery by drone) and Lockeford, California.
According to Engadget, 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.
Engadget also reported that Amazon will integrate the Prime Air 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.
Amazon provided the following information regarding drone deliveries:
Amazon customers in Italy, the UK, and an additional U.S. city will soon have the option to get their packages delivered by a drone beginning in late 2024. The Prime Air drone delivery system is expanding to international locations, and adding a third city in the United States by the end of next year – specific cities in the U.S. and abroad will be named in coming months.
The new locations add to our existing drone delivery operations in the U.S., where we’ve been using drones to safely deliver packages weighing up to five pounds in one hour or less, for almost a year.
In addition to new delivery sites, Prime Air is unveiling the new MK30 drone design, which is quieter, smaller, and lighter than previous models. We’re also announcing that drone deliveries will be integrating into Amazon’s delivery network, meaning drones will deploy from some Same-Day Delivery sites. In Italy and the UK, we will start integrating into some of our fulfillment centers, which will provide Amazon customers with faster delivery of an even greater selection of items. We will start with one site in each location and expand over time…
…We are working closely with national regulators and international regulators, and communities in the EU, Italy, the UK and the U.S., to develop this program. We have committed the necessary time and resources to build a safe and scalable service. We have refined the technology, and are now building the right infrastructure to ensure the service provides the ultimate convenience for our customers.
We have also taken great care to ensure that our drones’ design philosophy and demonstrated levels of safety are setting a higher bar for safety across the commercial drone delivery industry, working closely with regulators to design to the highest standard set within those regulations…
The Guardian reported that Amazon first outlined plans to use drones for delivery in 2013, stoking expectations of a new era of even faster package delivery. “It will work, and it will happen, and it’s going to be a lot of fun,” founder Jeff Bezos told 60 Minutes on CBS at the time.
But progress has been slow. The company launched its Prime Air Service – in Lockeford, California, and College Station, Texas – late last year, and CNBC reported in May that its drones had conducted just 100 deliveries. It had previously set an internal target of 10,000 this year.
In my opinion, people who live in the areas where Amazon’s drones can deliver might feel that’s easier than driving their car to a store where they can get a similar product. I have concerns that it may be possible for Amazon’s drones to push out some local businesses.