Amazon Makes Drone Delivery History
Retail giant Amazon has made its first drone delivery to an actual customer, dropping off a Fire TV device and a bag of popcorn to a house in the rural English countryside 13 minutes after receiving an online order, according to Bloomberg. The delivery occurred Dec. 7 near Cambridge in a zone that U.K. aviation authorities have authorized for drone test flights, according to a tweet by company Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos and a video documenting the flight.
While the flight was conducted under U.K. restrictions that for now prohibit such deliveries on a widespread basis, it marks a milestone in the race by companies like Amazon and Alphabet to use unmanned vehicles to transform how customers buy and receive goods. The company is beginning broader delivery trials in an attempt to gather safety data to justify an expansion of the program.
Amazon is making its drone-delivery service available to customers who live within a few miles of a facility it built to test deliveries. After the Dec. 7 order was received and the items were packaged, the cargo was automatically loaded onto the underside of a quad copter. The drone then lifted off and flew using the company’s automation software for guidance. A human operator was standing by to take over in the event of a failure. The drone landed with the help of a target placed on the ground to guide the craft’s sensors to a safe touchdown zone.